After conceding the Stanley Cup to the Washington Capitals the previous day, the Vegas Golden Knights cleaned out their lockers Friday afternoon. It marks a day the Knights dreaded facing since their miraculous run led them to the 2018 Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season. Most of the self-proclaimed ‘misfits’ reflected on their first year with the NHL’s latest franchise, echoing similar sentiments of appreciation among other things.
Marc-Andre Fleury remained in good spirits despite the letdown. He didn’t completely dwell over Thursday night’s loss, either. The Vegas goaltender cracked a smile as he joked about exceeding expectations, but also spoke about his future with the Golden Knights.
“It’s weird, a year ago I was told I was getting too old to play this game,” Fleury told reporters. “I still love it and still have a lot of fun. Vegas has given me this opportunity to do what I love. I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else and hopefully I can finish my career here.”
Fleury seized his opportunity in Vegas. He was named to Pacific Division’s All-Star team, posted a .927 save percentage as well as a 2.24 save percentage. Fleury played as if he was determined to prove a point to those who doubted him.
? Fleury: “A couple years ago I was getting told I was too old to play. I still love it, still have a lot of fun.
Certainly Vegas has given me this opportunity to do what I love and I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else. Hopefully I can finish my career here.” pic.twitter.com/vI6N1d4xay
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) June 8, 2018
Fleury’s run with the Pittsburgh Penguins ended after 13 years, where he lost the starting job to Matt Murray. Pittsburgh elected to protect Murray instead of the veteran goaltender at the expansion draft, as the organization turned an eye toward the future. Fleury was eligible to be selected, and Vegas didn’t hesitate to pick its top goaltender. As Fleury became the newest Golden Knight, a distinct roar erupted from the crowd inside T-Mobile Arena.
Fleury appeared onstage seconds after the announcement to greet general manager George McPhee. He immediately became a favorite within Vegas’ fan-base.
But Fleury is set to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2018-19 season.
At 35 years old, there’s no guarantee if his tenure in Vegas will extend past next year. The Golden Knights originally selected Calvin Pickard to succeed Fleury, but quickly claimed Malcom Subban earlier this season. Subban’s contract ends at the same time as Fleury’s but he will be a restricted free agent, meaning Vegas is more likely to retain the 24-year-old.