Marc-André Fleury Speaks: Joining The Blackhawks, Learning Of The Trade, Teaming With Patrick Kane, and More

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Marc-André Fleury Speaks: Joining The Blackhawks, Learning Of The Trade, Teaming With Patrick Kane, and More

Chicago Blackhawks

In one of the more exciting storylines of the summer for the Chicago Blackhawks, the addition of Marc-André Fleury looked like it wasn’t going to happen for a minute. After acquiring Fleury from the Vegas Golden Knights, Fleury wasn’t sure about uprooting his family to move to Chicago, but eventually he came around and made the commitment to the Blackhawks this weekend.

On Wednesday evening, Fleury had his first media availability since joining the organization. Fleury touched on a number of topics, including how he learned of the trade to Chicago, what helped him decide to play the 2021-22 season with the Blackhawks, and what those first few days following the trade were like.

Fleury had to elicit the help and advice of a number of former Blackhawks to make his final decision. Former goaltenders Cam Ward and Robin Lehner helped be in the ear of Fleury to give him good reason to take a chance on the Blackhawks in 2021-22.

When the first reports came out of Fleury being traded to the Blackhawks, it was reported that Fleury was considering retiring rather than play in Chicago. It took a couple of days of “will he or won’t he” but Fleury ended up coming around and making the decision to play in Chicago. He spoke about it not being anything against the Blackhawks or against Chicago, but rather having to come to a decision about moving his family again after having to do it back in 2017 when he was moved from the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Vegas Golden Knights.

When it comes to moving on from the Golden Knights, a team where Fleury helped get them to three third-round appearances in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in four seasons, including a run to the Stanley  Cup Final in 2018, there is a major drop-off to the Blackhawks. Chicago has missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs in three fo the last four seasons, and needed the pandemic-shortened season and modified 24-team bubble playoffs to get into the postseason in 2020. But with the offseason that the Blackhawks have had with roster construction, there is optimism for Fleury.

Even with just one season remaining on his current deal and probably only staying in Chicago for the 2021-22 season, Fleury sees the moves made by Blackhawks President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Stan Bowman and contributed to him committing to the team.

Chicago ranked tied for the most shots allowed per game (33.7) last season with the Buffalo Sabres. They made significant changes to the defensive group, including adding Seth Jones, Caleb Jones, and Jake McCabe, while losing Nikita Zadorov, Duncan Keith, and Adam Boqvist. The hope is that the defense in Chicago will be improved and Fleury will not have to be a super-human goaltender to make the Blackhawks competitive again. But it wouldn’t hurt if Fleury still played at the Vezina-winning level he did last season.

While the defense should be improved from last season, it’s a player like Patrick Kane that excites Fleury about coming to play for the Blackhawks.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the trade between the Golden Knights and Blackhawks was the way that it was reported that Fleury found out about the deal. Fleury supposedly found out about the deal via social media, not from the Golden Knights themselves. On Wednesday, Fleury provided clarity to what actually happened when the trade went down.

Hopefully with the Blackhawks, Fleury gets treated with a little more professional respect, especially given what he might end up meaning to Chicago during the 2021-22 season. The three-time Stanley Cup Champion and last year’s Vezina Trophy winner is going to turn 37-years-old in November after the season begins, but given his recent form, there isn’t much to say that Fleury is slowing down. If he can play at the same top-tier level he has in the past few seasons, it’ll definitely give Blackhawks fans reason to believe their team will not finish next season in the bottom of the difficult Central Division, but rather contend for a Stanley Cup Playoff spot.

And who knows, maybe if things go well enough, Fleury decides to stay in Chicago a little longer?

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Author: Mario Tirabassi

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.