Friday, June 8, 2018 | 2:50 p.m.
This season, Las Vegas fell in love with Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
The feeling appears to be mutual, as Fleury said today he wants to remain a Golden Knight for the rest of his career.
“It’s weird because a year ago, I was told I am getting too old to play, and I still have a lot of fun,” he said. “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.”
The 33-year-old veteran netminder was tossed aside by the Penguins last offseason after he spent the first 13 years of his career in Pittsburgh. The Penguins offered Golden Knights General Manager George McPhee a second-round pick to take Fleury’s salary off their books during last June’s expansion draft.
This season, Fleury set new career highs in save percentage (.927) and goals against average (2.24). He continued his elite level of play into the postseason, where he recorded a career-best four shutouts and a spectacularly low 1.68 goals against average through the first three rounds.
“It was a crazy year, from our team success to the support we’ve gotten from the fans,” Fleury said. “It was the best building to play in around the league. There were so many questions to create a hockey team in Vegas, and I think every expectation was exceeded.”
Fleury has one season left on his contract. He is scheduled to make $5.75 million in 2018-19 and will be an unrestricted agent the following offseason.
He quickly became a fan favorite in Las Vegas. The fans chanted his name at T-Mobile Arena after the starting lineups were announced for every home game. Fleury noticed the love off the ice, too.
Today, on locker clean-out day, many Golden Knights players talked about the support they have received from the fans.
“After the game last night, when we needed it most, they said, ‘You guys have done an unbelievable job here and it doesn’t matter what happened tonight,’” Defenseman Nate Schmidt said. “I was just sad and I said I’m sorry, but they said I have nothing to apologize for. I thought that was pretty cool.”
Fleury pointed to the fan support as a reason he wants to remain in Las Vegas.
“It was a lot of fun,” he said. “To see people on the street that say they follow our team and they’re proud of our hockey team means a lot.”