The Washington Capitals put on a “full court press” to land Marc-Andre Fleury ahead of the trade deadline, but the team was not successful. The Chicago Blackhawks let Fleury pick his club, despite the goaltender only having a 10-team no-trade clause, and the future Hall of Famer chose the Minnesota Wild, who are led by MAF’s former Penguins teammate Bill Guerin.
Rumors heading into deadline day suggested that Fleury was unwilling to come to Washington because the longtime Penguin did not want to play against his old team.
Sunday, MAF confirmed that in an interview during TNT’s NHL coverage.
“It just didn’t seem right,” Fleury said.
Marc-Andre Fleury just confirmed on @NHL_On_TNT's intermission show that he respects the #Caps but wasn't interested in coming to Washington at the deadline after all of the playoff battles as a member of the Penguins. "It just didn’t seem right," he said.
— Tarik El-Bashir (@Tarik_ElBashir) March 27, 2022
Heading into the deadline, the Capitals, according to El-Bashir, saw Fleury as “a significant upgrade” to what they already had in net with young goaltenders Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov. Fleury won three Stanley Cups with the Penguins and was awarded the Vezina Trophy last season as the league’s best goaltender.
Elliotte Friedman, in an interview with TNT days before MAF was traded, further explained Fleury’s rationale on why the Capitals were a hard sell.
“I don’t think it’s impossible that Washington goes after Fleury,” Friedman said then. “They’ve been interested in him for a while and I think they’re still interested him. I think the biggest question there is: how does Fleury feel about playing for the Washington Capitals? He was a Penguin for a long time. He still identifies a lot as a Penguin. That’s a bit of a bridge for him to cross.
“I think the other thing is, and this is purely my opinion, that Marc-Andre Fleury, I think he still wants to play and I think that at some point in time he might want to think about ending his career as a member of the Penguins and if he goes to Washington, would that even be possible.”
Penguins reporters and fans praised MAF’s decision on social media.
Take the numbers, championships, whatever else out of the equation.
There's a very clear reason Pittsburgh loves Marc-Andre Fleury. He's a nice dude who has been otherworldly loyal to these fans and the Penguins, years removed from playing here.
— Wes Crosby (@OtherNHLCrosby) March 27, 2022
Fleury made his debut for the Wild on Saturday night, leading Minnesota to a 3-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets in overtime. MAF stopped 23 of 25 shots for a .920 save percentage.
— SKOR North (@SKORNorth) March 27, 2022
Marc-Andre Fleury was just happy to get his debut win for the Wild 💐
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) March 27, 2022
The Wild landed the goaltender for a conditional 2022 second-round pick, that’ll turn into a first-rounder if Minnesota reaches the Western Conference Final and Fleury wins four games in the postseason. Chicago also retained half of Fleury’s $7 million cap hit.
Fleury explained his choice to TSN after the trade.
“I think just a chance to be in the playoffs, a chance to get there, to battle to get there, to battle to go win,” he said. “I think that’s why we all play in the end. Also, a good fit for me with my family. They’re going to stay in Chicago. And it’s not too far away.
“And obviously they [Wild] have a great team. They’re great defensively. They have a lot of big guys and they play well. … I’m lucky that things worked out.”
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