Emotions to run high as Fleury returns tonight


NIck Pouch, Staff Writer

The Pens game tonight is destined to be emotional for the players, the fans in the arena, and even the whole city.

The Vegas Golden Knights are coming to Pittsburgh, but that is the small part of the story. The big one is Marc-Andre Fleury making his emotion return to Pittsburgh after leaving in the expansion draft.

Fleury has done so much for the city, starting with his role in bringing three Stanley Cup victories since the Pens drafted him first overall in the 2003 NHL Draft.

He helped earn the first Cup back in 2009 when the Pens defeated the Detroit Red Wings in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

The most memorable moment from that year is Fleury making multiple saves in the final seconds of the game to sustain the 2-1 lead and get the victory. Immediately afterward, the whole team crowded Fleury, celebrating winning the Cup.

In the 2015-16 season Fleury played fantastically in the regular season, recording 35 wins and 5 shutouts. He then got injured and was replaced with current starting goaltender Matt Murray.

Murray played the rest of the playoffs and won the team its fourth Stanley Cup, but many thank Fleury for one of his best seasons, which helped get the Pens to the playoffs.

During the 2016-17 season Fleury and Murray split the starts, which was a signal to Pens fans that Fleury would not be one of the players protected from the expansion draft. Fleury played well but was outshined by Murray, who played for most of the team’s fifth Stanley Cup run.

Fleury knew he was going to be gone and so did fans, which made the scene of Fleury passing the Cup to Murray last spring that much more emotional.

Fleury was taken in the expansion draft last summer and many fans were happy enough to see him in a starting position again, but upset he was going to be on a losing team — or so everyone thought.

The Golden Knights have 74 points and are in first place in the Western Conference while the Pens are having a more difficult year with 61 points, good for third place in the Metropolitan Division.

Many are expecting a competitive game tonight with Fleury trying to best his old team, but many are more excited just to see Fleury back in the Burgh.

Fleury will be getting a video package tonight to honor his career as a Penguin and is almost definitely going to get a roaring ovation that will be heard around Pittsburgh and the NHL.