Marc-Andre Fleury is in Pittsburgh for good.
Speculation that the Penguins might demote Fleury, who has appeared in 23 games, in order to avoid paying any potential contract bonuses that could kick in once he reaches 25 NHL game appearances this season has been put to rest. Penguins management stated Wednesday that Fleury will remain in Pittsburgh based on his performance – not salary.
“Our objective is to win hockey games,” Penguins General Manager Craig Patrick said. “Whatever that takes from here on out and in the future is our goal day in and day out.”
Fleury is 5-13-3 with a 3.19 goals-against average and .901 save percentage. However, the 2003 first-overall draft choice has played at a very high level and seized the Penguins’ top goaltending spot.
“Marc is playing good for us,” Penguins coach Michel Therrien said.
Fleury, 21, is happy to know he’s the No. 1 man between the pipes for the Penguins.
“It’s a relief to not have to worry about getting sent down again,” he said. “I just have to play good and I think they will keep me around.”
As Fleury approached the 25-game mark, he was not sure whether he was going to stay in Pittsburgh or be sent to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Baby Penguins – Pittsburgh’s top minor-league club.
“Maybe lately in the past couple days, I didn’t know what to expect if I was going to get sent down or they’d keep me here,” he said. “It’s maybe a relief to find that out.”
Fleury has played in the Penguins’ last seven games and 18 of 21 contests since he was recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Nov. 28.
“I don’t mind it. I am always happy to be able to go play,” he said. “If I can help the guys be able to get the chance to win games, I am happy.”