Blackhawks' new goalie "Flower" is perfect for every occasion
Marc-Andre Fleury will do in Chicago what he did in Las Vegas and Pittsburgh before that. He will spread joy in the dressing room, become an instant fan favorite and make more than his fair share of memorable saves.
In life we sometimes meet people that prompt us to wish that everyone was like them. French Canadian Fleury is one of those folks.
He’s a goalie and yet he has received votes for the Lady Byng Award for each of the past three seasons. That award in theory goes to the NHL’s most gentlemanly player
Flower, as he is called, brightens any occasion.
He is like your favorite cousin, the humble, soft-spoken guy who plays video games, clowns around and always enjoys every day of his life. He is charmingly humble, an exceptional family man, always does the right thing and never without a smile.
Except this cousin comes with Hall of Fame skills, a Vezina Trophy and multiple Stanley Cup rings.
Yesterday, Fleury revealed to Chicago fans he is “in” to play there and today there’s a billboard up in the Windy City welcoming Fleury to the Windy City.
The Blackhawks know what they have in Fleury and it won’t take long for the fans to appreciate him either.
It’s hard not to root for Fleury. He went through a three-year playoff slump in Pittsburgh when he could not have stopped a basketball.
But I remember interviewing teammates in that period and none of them ever gave up on him because they loved him too much as a teammate.
The Central Division will be tough to the point that even the addition of Fleury won’t guarantee the Blackhawks will make the playoffs.
But I can say with confidence the Blackhawks’ acquisition of Fleury is as meaningful as any move that any team made this offseason. He has one season left on his contract, but if this goes as well as it should, Fleury could finish his career in Chicago.
In conjunction with the trades for Seth Jones, Caleb Jones and Tyler Johnson and Jonathan Toews’ return, Fleury’s arrival puts them back in contention.
Look at what he did when he arrived in Vegas. Look at what he did last season when the Golden Knights expected to hand over their net to Robin Lehner.
He’s 36, but his 1.98 goals-against average shows where his game is at. The Blackhawks’ team save percentage was .906 last season, ranking them 20th. Fleury’s save percentage was .928. According to Hockeyreference.com, Fleury had 26 quality starts last season in 36 games.
Everything is not perfect in Chicago. The ‘Hawks still need one more quality defenseman. Plus, we don’t know where Toews’ game will be after a season away. We could see some rust.
Johnson showed during the Lightning playoff run that he still has a spark. Plus, the younger players, particularly Kirby Dach, should be improved.
And the goaltending of course will be much better. Back when Dan Bylsma was coach in Pittsburgh, he would announce the starting lineup and end with the phrase: “And Flower has the net.” And the Penguins would storm onto the ice.
Would guess Fleury's arrival will give the Blackhawks more confidence as well.