SOREL-TRACY, Quebec -- Having watched most of the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the bench, goaltender Marc-André Fleury wasn't in much of a party mood when his Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup at SAP Center in San Jose on June 12.
It was a different story Saturday.
Fleury brought the Stanley Cup back to his hometown and was in a festive spirit surrounded by friends and family.
On Aug. 6, 2009, seven years earlier to the day, Fleury brought the Cup home for the first time after having played a starring role in the Penguins victory against the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup Final, most notably leaning over to cover the post and stop a Nicklas Lidstrom shot in the dying seconds to preserve the Game 7 victory.
This year, Fleury was forced to watch rookie Matt Murray carry the load for the Penguins in in the playoffs, having taken over for Fleury when he sustained a concussion on March 31 and never relinquishing the job, winning 15 games in the playoffs including the Cup-clinching victory June 12 in San Jose.
"It's a different feeling when you're sitting on the bench, you're not sweating, you're not battling with your teammates to win the Cup," Fleury said Saturday. "Having said that, I'm happy to have my name on it a second time.
"I did my best to keep everyone upbeat and in a better mood around the team. I wanted to play, but that was the situation. The team was winning. The most important thing for me was to be a good teammate."
Serge Peloquin, the mayor of this town roughly 50 miles northeast of Montreal on the shores of the St-Lawrence River, said he was no less proud of Sorel-Tracy's most famous citizen, saying that Fleury's ability to put the Penguins' interests above his own made him a bigger champion.
But Fleury, 31, insisted he is not ready to simply concede the Penguins net and said he intends to arrive at training camp ready to win his job back.
"I love Pittsburgh, and the Penguins are my team; I want to stay with them for the rest of my career," Fleury said. "I had some good conversations with management after the season. Nothing is written in stone. I want to come to camp ready to win my job back. I have to get back to the same level of play and help the team, win games."
Fleury has three years left on his contract at a salary-cap charge of $5.75 million and is armed with a no-movement clause, according to General Fanager. With the NHL expansion draft on the horizon, the Penguins will be allowed to protect only one goaltender, and Fleury's no-movement clause means he could not be exposed without his consent.
Sooner or later, the Penguins will need to make a decision between him and Murray. But until that day, Fleury believes the two can coexist.
"Matt is a really good goalie and a really good guy," he said. "We don't battle off the ice. We get along well, but we both want to play."
Fleury began his day with the Cup on Saturday the same way his teammate Kris Letang did the day before, using it as a cereal bowl for his two daughters, Estelle, 3, and Scarlett, 1.
He then brought it to Montreal Children's Hospital to brighten the day for its patients.
"Ever since I had kids, it's more touching," he said. "It was important to me to go put some sunshine in their day."
Fleury arrived at his hometown late in the afternoon, parading the Cup around a downtown park on a golf cart after briefly addressing the assembled crowd.
He then signed autographs for 75 contest winners chosen at random among people who bought a limited edition Penguins championship T-shirt, an initiative that raised $5,000 for a local volunteering group.
"It's important to me that I share my success with the people here because of all the support they've given me for so long," he said. "Sorel-Tracy is a hockey town, the people here are passionate. If I can be a role model for kids here, show them it's possible to win the Stanley Cup, maybe it will inspire them to work harder to make their dreams come true."