Friday, October 3, 2008

Old Man Fleury:

It's hard to believe when looking at the fresh, always chuckling face of Marc Andre Fleury that in less than 2 months he'll turn 24 years old. It's even harder to believe this will be his 6th season in the NHL, he's played 173 regular season NHL games, his first room mate was Mark Bergevin (I didn't even remember that he'd been on the team), he holds the team record for play-off shutouts in a season(3), and, if you split up Eddie Johnston's two terms, (and at a decade apart, I think we can) he's been here longer than any two Penguins coaches you care to name. But according to my research and Joe Starkey over at the Trib, this is all true.

So, I started a little more digging (don't feel sorry for me, I like doing that stuff), and I came up with an article from '03, by PPG writer Dejan Kovacevic (please don't ask me to pronounce that) who seemed at times frazzled by MAF's inability to take the whole thing seriously. I wanted to contrast the inexperienced Fleury with the current Tower of Flower Power, so I read both articles to ferret out the differences. And then I read them again. Thought about it a few minutes and, thinking perhaps I needed more caffeine to stimulate my blurry synapses, I paused to adjust my IV Coffee drip and tried it again. You know what I came up with? Other than 1 deleted expletive I couldn't find one (deleted expletive) thing. He's still treating interviews like some sort of 'isn't it funny what adults ask' kind of a game, still clowning it up in the tunnel with Max Talbot before each game, hiding in Army's hockey bag, or mocking Sid during practices.

I started to worry a bit, realizing that MAF is the second-youngest starting goalie in the League, and doesn't seem to be able to take anything seriously, but reading on, something struck me, how serious this 'kid' is about hockey.

In his rookie season (QMJHL), he was benched during a game after giving up two goals in rapid succession. Pascal Vincent, his coach, ordered Fleury to keep track of all shots taken by the opponent on a chart for the rest of the game, something he and his staff require of all goaltenders on the bench.
After the game, Vincent looked at the chart and was stunned to find it blank. He turned it over and saw a message scribbled: "I am not a statistician. I am a goaltender. Marc-Andre Fleury."

You see what I mean? This kind of thing from a soft-spoken, goofy kid who wasn't even supposed to make back-up that year completely focused on that one thing 'I'm a goaltender'. Oh, yeah.... Jump in the pool Marc, the water's fine...

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