On two nights in February, there was a Fleury on the Mellon Arena ice.
That’s nothing new. What was unusual about it, though, he wasn’t defending a goal – he was trying to shoot pucks into it.
No, it wasn’t Marc-Andre Fleury, the Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender. It was his dad, Andre, who took part in the annual Penguins Adult Hockey Fantasy Camp.
“It was pretty fun. He was pretty pumped up just about coming,” Marc-Andre said. “He likes to come and watch me, too, but he had the chance to play. He played with some NHL guys. He was pretty excited about it.”
At least twice a season, Andre leaves his home in Quebec to come to Pittsburgh to watch his son stop pucks for the Penguins. This year, however, he got the idea to be an active participant in the Penguins camp. He skated on a team which was coached by Penguins alumnus Duane Rupp and featured former Penguins players Phil Bourque and Alain Lemieux.
“It’s been 14 years since he’s played. This is the first time for him [at this camp] and he loves it,” said Lemieux, who served as a translator for French-speaking Andre. “This is nice for him. He is very excited to be here. This is the first time he’s done any type of camps like this.”
Over the course of two days at Mellon Arena, the campers participated in on-ice drills and played a round-robin tournament. In addition, they watched the Penguins practice and their Feb. 4 game against the New York Islanders.
While both Fleurys were busy with hockey, they managed to spend a little time together.
“They played a lot and we were busy, too,” Marc-Andre said. “We saw each other here and there, but maybe not that much. It was still nice to see him. We don’t see each other so much during the season. He watches on TV, but he is always happy to come down and watch me play in person.”
The roles were reversed, though, when the younger Fleury had a unique opportunity to sit in the stands and watch his dad play.
“I watched one of his games. It was all right. He wasn’t too bad. He surprised me with a couple moves,” Marc-Andre said with a smile. “I was yelling at him in French and nobody else could understand what I was saying.”
Hockey runs in the Fleury family. But, there is one distinct difference between father and son – Marc-Andre chose to be a goaltender instead of a forward like Andre.
“He just played there and I wasn’t that good, so I played in net instead,” Marc-Andre said with a laugh.
Fleury’s team finished third in the camp’s tournament. Nevertheless, he looks forward to another chance to participate next year.
“Yeah, he’s talked about it already,” Marc-Andre said. “He said he will start playing in a league in December so he is ready by the time the camp is held again.”