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Expansion Draft

Marc-Andre Fleury wants to help Golden Knights, game grow

Goaltender, selected from Penguins in Expansion Draft, out to boost Vegas, local youth hockey

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

LAS VEGAS -- Marc-Andre Fleury didn't expect it, that standing ovation, the fans inside T-Mobile Arena chanting his last name.

"I was just going on the stage to give a quick wave and get out of there," the goaltender said after the 2017 NHL Awards and NHL Expansion Draft presented by T-Mobile on Wednesday. "That was a warm welcome. I'm very excited about it."

 

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For 14 years, Fleury had belonged to the Pittsburgh Penguins and, by extension, the city of Pittsburgh and all of Western Pennsylvania that bleeds black and gold.

Now, officially, he belongs to the Vegas Golden Knights and, by extension, the city of Las Vegas and the budding hockey community here.

After hearing the response he got upon being introduced as one of Vegas' 30 selections in the expansion draft, the 32-year-old three-time Stanley Cup champion, who has two years remaining on his contract, is ready to dive in and do his part.

"Obviously we've got great fans already, having sold all the season tickets and by the reception we got tonight here," Fleury said. "I'll give everything I've got to win some games and try to get into the community to meet people and spread the word about the Golden Knights."

Video: Kevin Weekes speaks with Marc-André Fleury

According to Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, his longest-serving teammate, Fleury will be a terrific ambassador to bridge the Golden Knights to the Las Vegas hockey community, just like he did for the Penguins and the Pittsburgh hockey community.

"I think that he's going to be so important for their team with his experience and the kind of person that he is," said Crosby, who noted Fleury was the only player left in Pittsburgh from his rookie season of 2005-06. "I know he's excited for the opportunity. You really couldn't get a better guy to do it."

Fleury wants to do it too. He wants to be involved off the ice like he was in the Pittsburgh area, where he was embraced enough to have people line up overnight to meet him at a Dick's Sporting Goods on Tuesday, one day after he helped build and open a playground he financed.

He especially wants to be part of the growth of hockey at the youth level here, just as he was in Pittsburgh.

"I thought in Pittsburgh they did a great job with it," Fleury said. "Over the years it kept getting bigger and bigger and more kids started to play and the team was good at getting involved in it, involved with kids, having the learn-to-play programs. From seeing it I'm sure it's something we can do here too. I hope I can get out there and try to promote our team, promote hockey itself."

One of the best ways he can do that is to help the Golden Knights have success on the ice.

With 375 wins, Fleury is 15th on the NHL list.

"I want to keep winning, not to get up there, not to get [to] No. 3," Fleury said. "I just want to win so our team has success, so we do well and we get in the playoffs and we have success in the playoffs. That's what matters."

Video: Jamie and Kevin on Fleury and the Vegas goalies

But first he has to get settled here. Fleury started that process long before he knew he'd be an original member of the Golden Knights. He kept up with the news on how the team's front office was being shaped, the coaching staff too. He studied what would eventually become his team.

His wife, Veronique, is in town with him and they plan to spend a few extra days here house hunting, looking for where they should settle.

Fleury arrived in Pittsburgh as an 18-year-old who was dating his future wife. He arrives in Las Vegas as a 32-year-old husband and father to two daughters, Estelle and Scarlett, and as the best teammate Crosby said he has ever had at any level.

"It's hard to believe how fast it goes," Crosby said. "A guy like that, who has meant so much, it's hard talking about [him leaving]."

But here in Las Vegas they're talking about Fleury arriving, about the first most important player in Golden Knights history.

"He wanted to come here," Vegas general manager George McPhee said. "He kept letting us know he wanted to come here."

Now Fleury is here, the fans already love him, and he's ready to get to work on the new phase of his career, in a jersey that's new to everybody in the NHL and the hockey world.

"I'll wear it with pride," Fleury said.

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