PITTSBURGH — If this was the way Marc-Andre Fleury goes out as a Penguin, the final fan interaction he has before the upcoming expansion draft, he'll leave deeply adored. Just like it's always been.
There were few players, if any, who received a warmer applause from fans at the Penguins victory parade than Fleury, the longtime Penguins goaltender. As Fleury came by on his vehicle through the parade route, fans chanted his last name, similar to how they've done time and time again throughout his career.
Fleury's always been a fan-favorite, for a number of reasons. As the first overall pick by the Penguins in the 2003 draft, Fleury has represented one of the building blocks towards the rebirth of the Penguins franchise. Fleury has been praised as a great teammate and generally a nice guy by others. It's that reason, along with his flashes of brilliance in the net, that have endeared him to fans.
Fleury recently waived his no-movement clause that would have prevented the Penguins from exposing him in the expansion draft of the Vegas Golden Knights. Though it's not a guarantee that the Golden Knights will select him or that he'll ask to be traded if they don't, Fleury certainly has appeal to teams. Fleury, who was supplanted by Matt Murray as the Penguins starting goalie, started the first 15 games of the playoffs after Murray got injured. He posted a 2.56 goal against and .924 save percentage in those games.
As Fleury and Murray were introduced to the front of the stage at Point State Park at the end of the parade, former Penguins television play-by-play announcer Paul Steigerwald called the two “a couple guys who had a pretty big role I’d say in winning the Stanley Cup" and "the greatest goalie tandem in the history of the playoffs." After the introduction, Murray and Fleury hoisted the Stanley Cup together, each holding one end. As instructed by Steigerwald, the fans chanted both of their surnames, alternating between the two.
It was perhaps the last time Fleury will hear his name chanted by Penguins fans.