Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury
turned 25 years old Saturday. Among his birthday gifts were a Nintendo Wii, complete with a Super Mario Bros. game, and a handful of ice cubes down the back of his shirt courtesy of Matt Cooke
Fleury took time after the team’s Saturday morning skate, while receiving his gift from Cooke, to look back at his years spent in Pittsburgh.
The 2003 No. 1 overall draft pick made his sensational NHL debut Oct. 10, 2003 against the Los Angeles Kings, stopping 46 of 48 shots, including a penalty shot by the Kings Esa Pirnes.
“It’s crazy. It feels like I just got here not too long ago,” Fleury said. “It’s been six years. Time just flies by.”
Captain Sidney Crosby
also couldn’t believe how quickly the time has passed.
“We just talked about that this morning,” Crosby said. “I asked him how old he was and he said 25. Times flies but he is still pretty young. It definitely goes by quick.”
“I feel the same as yesterday, not much change,” Fleury laughed when asked how turning 25 felt.
The young goaltender has accomplished a lot in seven seasons, backstopping the Penguins through two runs to the Stanley Cup Final and hoisting the Cup after the Game 7 thriller last season against Detroit.
Fleury has accumulated 125 NHL regular-season wins, six more than the 119 wins than Martin Brodeur gathered with the New Jersey Devils before his 25th birthday. Patrick Roy won 133 games before turning 25 while playing for the Montreal Canadiens.
Brodeur and Roy are No’s. 1 and 2 when it comes to total regular-season wins (Brodeur, 571; Roy, 551), and Fleury is well on his way to joining his boyhood idols in the record books.
Legendary netminder Terry Sawchuk holds the record for wins by age 25, picking up 179 with the Detroit Red Wings before hitting the quarter-century mark.
Fleury has matured over the years, and now feels more in control of his game. His raw acrobatic talent and athleticism has been transformed into a solid goaltending style. Fleury’s quick development helped the team evolve out of the lean rebuilding years that were only a handful of seasons ago.
“I think mentally I’m more relaxed, more calm,” Fleury said. “I think before I might worry too much.
“I know there’s going to be tough games and there’s going to be losses. It’s ok. It’s such a long season. The next game you have to make sure that you’re ready and get back to winning again. I think time and experience has helped me.”