If there was any confusion about what the Pittsburgh Penguins fan base thinks about Marc-Andre Fleury, it was quickly cleared up on Tuesday night.
They love their Flower.
The team lost its All-Star netminder to Vegas in the expansion draft last offseason, and Fleury, aside from posting career-bests in save percentage (.939) and goals against average (1.84), became an instant fan favourite in Sin City while putting up a legitimate case to win the first Vezina Trophy of his career as he carries the West-leading Golden Knights into the final third of the season.
The former Penguins goaltender and 2003 No. 1 overall pick returned to Pittsburgh for the first time as an opponent as the Vegas Golden Knights took on the Pens for the second and final time this campaign. As basically everyone expected, it was an emotional reunion between goalie and city as a beloved member of the Pittsburgh sports scene for nearly 15 years made a day of catching up with former coaches, teammates, friends and the city he won three Stanley Cups in.
The most recent of those feats happened just last season, where Fleury posted a .924 save percentage and captured nine of the Pens’ 16 victories en route to the Team’s third Stanley Cup since 2009.
The 33-year-old kicked off the day’s events by picking up last season’s Cup ring:
He got to catch up with his good friend and former goalie partner Matt Murray:
The Penguins ran a glorious two-and-a-half minute tribute to the Flower just ahead of game time:
The home crowd showered its beloved former netminder with a long ovation prior to the game:
The room got a little dusty for MA:
Some of his former teammates weren’t so polite to their buddy, thoguh:
Although Fleury ultimately conceded five goals in a 5-4 loss, it was a memorable homecoming for one of Pittsburgh’s sports icons.