Marc-Andre Fleury started his career with the Penguins when the organization drafted him first overall back in 2003, and he wants to finish it here.
“I love the city, I love the team,” said Fleury, who’s played all 531 of his NHL games over 10 NHL seasons with Pittsburgh. “It’s where I want to win, it’s where I want to play.”
Fleury, who has one season left on the seven-year contract he signed in 2008, did not ink an extension with the Penguins over the summer. That means he will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season if a deal is not reached by then.
However, the 29-year-old netminder isn’t stressing out that a deal wasn’t done during the offseason.
“There was so much going on,” he said. “I think for a player it’s always nice to have the certainty of a contract. You never know what can happen. But at the same time, I’m not too worried. Pittsburgh has been great to me. It’s a great place.”
With Brooks Orpik signing with Washington in the offseason, Fleury is now the longest-tenured Penguin on the roster. He’s been through a lot with this organization over the last 11 years, including back-to-back Stanley Cup Final appearances in 2008 and ’09, and knows how special it would be for them to be the only team he ever plays for.
“We don’t see it too often anymore, with guys moving around pretty quickly,” he said. “I like everything about the team here. The organization has always treated me very well, given me my chance in the NHL. If I can end my career here, I’ll be very happy about that.
“Sometimes you wonder what it would be like (to test unrestricted free agency), but at the same time, I’m happy here and I don’t want to go anywhere.”
There certainly were a lot of changes made to the coaching staff over the summer, but goaltending coach Mike Bales remained. He and Fleury began working together last August to make a few tweaks and adjustments to his approach and style of play, and it resulted in a fine season for the netminder.
A few notables: 39 wins, most in the Eastern Conference and second-most (tied) in the NHL; tied single-season career high in shutouts with five; and set a franchise-best playoff shutout streak of 145:30 minutes with back-to-back blankings in Games 2 and 3 vs. NY Rangers.
“I think Mike’s been good for me,” Fleury said. “Made a few changes here and there. Last season was good. It’s always disappointing when you don’t win at the end, it’s tough, but overall, I thought the season was good.”
While Fleury is familiar with Bales, he wasn’t with new head coach Mike Johnston. But Johnston took it upon himself to visit Fleury and his French-Canadian teammates Kris Letang and Pascal Dupuis in their native Quebec to meet with them before the season started.
“Mr. Johnston came down to Montreal, so that was very nice of him to make the trip to meet a few of us,” Fleury said. “He saw me, ‘Tanger,’ ‘Duper’ and he went to Russia to see ‘Geno’ (Evgeni Malkin), so it’s little things. He seems like a good guy, good ideas. It will be good for him to get settled.”