Marc-André Fleury (born November 28, 1984) is a Canadian professional ice hockey goaltender playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League (NHL). Drafted out of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) first overall by the Penguins in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, Fleury played major junior for four seasons with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, earning both the Mike Bossy Trophy as the league's top prospect and the Telus Cup as the top defensive player in 2003. He joined the Penguins in 2003–04 and won two Stanley Cup championships with the team in 2009 and 2016. Internationally, Fleury has represented Canada twice as a junior, winning back-to-back silver medals at the World Junior Championships in 2003 and 2004. He won a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
Fleury is known by the nickname "Flower," derived from the English translation of his last name (fleuri is "in bloom," or "in flower," in French). His goaltender masks always feature a fleur-de-lys on the backplate (in addition to the initials EFGT, honouring his four grandparents in memoriam), and have frequently featured some sort of flower on the front artwork, as well.
Fleury played major junior in the QMJHL for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, beginning in 2000–01. After a strong 2002–03 campaign that included a silver medal with Team Canada at the World Junior Championships and QMJHL Second Team All-Star honours, he was chosen first overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins acquired the first overall pick from the Florida Panthers in a trade that sent the first and 73rd overall picks to the Penguins in exchange for Mikael Samuelsson and the third and 55th picks. He is only the third goalie to be chosen first overall in the NHL draft, after Michel Plasse and Rick DiPietro. Playing four seasons total with Cape Breton, Fleury's jersey number 29 was later retired by the club in his fourth NHL season on January 25, 2008.
Fleury immediately made his NHL debut in 2003–04 as the youngest goaltender in the league at 18 years old (three months less than the second-youngest, Rick DiPietro of the New York Islanders). He appeared in his first NHL game on October 10, 2003, against the Los Angeles Kings, recording an impressive 46-save performance, which included a penalty shot save, in a 3–0 loss. Fleury recorded his first NHL win in his very next start, on October 18, with 31 saves in a 4–3 win over the Detroit Red Wings. His first NHL shutout came on October 30, in a 1–0 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Fleury shared time with goaltenders Jean-Sébastien Aubin and Sébastien Caron and lived up to first-overall-pick expectations early, earning Rookie of the Month honours in October with a 2–2–2 record, 1.96 goals against average (GAA) and .943 save percentage. As the season progressed, however, his performance began to sink, mainly due to Pittsburgh's poor defence. The team regularly gave up over 30 shots per game, and rarely managed to become an offensive threat. He was loaned to Team Canada for the 2004 World Junior Championships in December and, upon returning with a second consecutive silver medal, he was sent back to the QMJHL on January 29, 2004. In light of financial difficulties for the franchise, it is believed Fleury's $3 million contract bonus, which he would have potentially received if he stayed and met several performance goals, was a factor in the decision to return him to Cape Breton. To no avail, Fleury offered to forfeit his bonus to remain with the club. Fleury finished the QMJHL season with Cape Breton in a first round elimination and was subsequently assigned to Pittsburgh's American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, and appeared in two post-season games.
As NHL play was postponed on account of the labour dispute, Fleury continued to play with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in 2004–05, where he posted a 26–19–4 record, a 2.52 GAA and a .901 save percentage. When NHL play resumed in 2005–06, Fleury started the season once more in the minors, but was quickly called up by Pittsburgh for a game against the Buffalo Sabres on October 10 to replace an injured Jocelyn Thibault. He continued to play between Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Pittsburgh until November 28, after which he remained with Pittsburgh. With the Penguins finishing last in the Eastern Conference and allowing a league-worst 316 goals, Fleury recorded a 3.25 GAA and a .898 save percentage. Competing for time with Sébastien Caron and Jocelyn Thibault, Fleury emerged as the Penguins' starting goalie.
Despite playing behind a shaky defence, Fleury was able to impress the team management with his technique and performance and signed a two-year contract extension worth $2.59 million in the off-season. In the proceeding campaign, Fleury's stats improved significantly. Playing behind a better Penguins team, which featured rising superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, he recorded five shutouts and a 2.83 GAA. He earned his 40th win in a 2–1 victory over the New York Rangers in the season finale, joining Tom Barrasso as the only Penguins goaltenders to record 40 wins in a season. He also broke Johan Hedberg's single season franchise record for most games and minutes played. Fleury made his NHL playoff debut against the Ottawa Senators, the eventual Stanley Cup finalists, in the first round and recorded his first playoff win in Game 2, recording 34 saves in a 4–3 win at Scotiabank Place. Fleury was credited with strong performances in the series, but the Penguins were eliminated in five games.
Fleury started the 2007–08 season slowly, then won four straight games before suffering a high-ankle sprain against the Calgary Flames on December 6. He returned as a starter on March 2, after a brief conditioning stint in the AHL with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. While sidelined, he decided to change the colour of his goaltending equipment from the bright yellow that had become his signature to plain white, to gain an optical advantage over shooters. He was also influenced and challenged by the very strong play of Ty Conklin, who took the team's starting job after being promoted from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in Fleury's absence. Upon his return from injury, Fleury helped the Penguins win the Atlantic Division, going 10–2–1 with a 1.45 GAA en route to a 12–2 playoff run to the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals against the Detroit Red Wings. He recorded perhaps the best performance of his career at the time in Game 5 of the Finals at Detroit, where he stopped 55 of 58 shots in a triple overtime win for the Penguins to stave off elimination. Possibly the most memorable save he made came in the second period against Mikael Samuelsson – where he barely got a toe on the puck to keep Pittsburgh in the game, which Petr Sýkora eventually ended. Despite his strong play, the Penguins lost the series in six games, and Fleury's unfortunate attempt to cover an unseen loose puck by sitting on it in Game 6 resulted in him propelling the puck into the net; the own goal turned out to be the Stanley Cup-winner, credited to Henrik Zetterberg. "The one where I sat on it?" he said. "Oh yeah. (Expletive) yeah. That stunk." However, he would recover by the start of the following season:
"I'm done with it", Fleury said. "I swore enough about it. Nothing I can do anymore. I don't think we lost the finals on one goal, you know what I mean? I feel bad because I kind of put it in, but it was a best-out-of-seven. They had a good team, and they beat us."
Fleury completed the playoffs with three shutouts – a new team record for one playoff season – and a 14–6 record. His .933 save percentage was also tops in the playoffs. In the off-season, Fleury signed a seven-year, US$35 million contract with the Penguins, on July 3. It included a no-movement clause, and a limited no-trade clause that triggers in the 2010–11 season.
Fleury compiled a 35–18–7 record in 2008–09 to help the Penguins to a fourth-place finish in the Eastern Conference, entering the 2009 playoffs as the defending Prince of Wales champions. Fleury was a major factor in the first round against the Penguins' intrastate rivals the Philadelphia Flyers. In Game 2 at home, with a 2–1 deficit late in the third, Fleury made a key toe save against Flyers top goal scorer Jeff Carter which was eventually pivotal as the Penguins tied the game late in the 3rd and won late in overtime. After the Flyers won Game 3 comfortably, Fleury once again stole a game for the Penguins in Game 4, stopping 43 shots to keep a surging Flyers line-up at bay and ensure a 3–1 lead. The Flyers won in Pittsburgh in Game 5, but Fleury saved another performance for the final period of Game 6. After initially letting in 3 goals, Fleury did not allow another as the Penguins rallied from a 3–0 deficit to win 5–3. The Penguins went the full distance in the second round against the Washington Capitals. In the deciding game seven, Fleury made a key breakaway glove save early in the contest against Capitals superstar Alexander Ovechkin, helping the Penguins eliminate Washington by a 6–2 score.
Fleury and the Penguins then swept the Carolina Hurricanes in the Conference Finals to return to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Detroit Red Wings for the second consecutive year. After being pulled in game five after allowing 5 goals, Fleury made another momentous breakway save in game six, this time with 1:39 minutes left in regulation against Dan Cleary to preserve a 2–1 lead and help the Penguins force a game seven. Playing the series-deciding game in Detroit, Fleury played an integral role in the Penguins 2–1 victory to capture the franchise's third Stanley Cup, making two critical saves in the final seconds. After stopping an initial Henrik Zetterberg shot from the right faceoff circle, the rebound came loose to Nicklas Lidström at the left faceoff circle, forcing Fleury to make a diving stop with 1.5 seconds remaining to preserve the win and the Stanley Cup.
Fleury recorded a 37–21–6 record during the 2009–10 NHL season, as the defending Stanley Cup champions Pittsburgh would again finish fourth in the Eastern Conference. After dispatching Ottawa in six games, the Penguins were upset by the eighth-seeded Montreal Canadiens in round two, ending their chance of a Stanley Cup repeat. Fleury recorded a 2.78 goals against average during the Playoffs.
With Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin sidelined with injuries for much of the 2010–11 season, Fleury and the Penguins' defence were relied on to carry the team to the playoffs. Fleury finished with a 36–20–5 record and the Penguins finished fourth in the Eastern Conference. The Penguins squared off against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the playoffs, where they were defeated in seven games despite taking a 3–1 series lead early. Fleury posted a .899 save percentage in the series.
Backup goalies Brent Johnson and Brad Thiessen struggled through much of the 2011–12 season, leaving Fleury as the only viable goaltending option. Fleury played 67 games in the season, starting 23 consecutive games at one point leading up to the All-Star break, and finished the season with 42 wins, second only to the Nashville Predators' Pekka Rinne.
Despite the impressive regular season campaign, Fleury had a less-than-impressive playoff run, being eliminated by the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round and posting a .834 save percentage and 4.63 goals against average, as the Flyers advanced in six games.
Fleury returned to the net after the lock-out season with a vengeance, putting some of the best marks of his career in the shortened season. He finished with a record of 23–8, tying him for fourth in the league, while his save percentage and goals against average continued to place him in the top half of starting goaltenders. His playoff troubles continued, however; after posting a shutout in his playoff game, he was less than impressive in following starts, leaving backup Tomáš Vokoun to start for the remainder of the 2013 playoffs. The Penguins promising 2012–13 season ended abruptly with a 4–0 loss to the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Finals. After the season, however, Penguins officials confirmed that Fleury remained the team's starting goaltender.
Fleury's performance during the regular season during 2013–14 was similar to his performance the year before. He finished with a record of 39–18–5 and posted a save percentage of .915 and a goals against average of 2.37. Despite a marked improvement in his playoff performance over the prior year, the Penguins lost in the second round to the New York Rangers despite taking an early 3–1 lead in the series.
On November 5, 2014, the Penguins signed Fleury to a four-year extension with an average annual value of $5.75 million. On November 18, 2014, he earned his first shutout against the Montreal Canadiens, making 27 saves for a league-leading fourth shutout of the season, with a final score of 4–0. On November 24, 2014, Fleury recorded his 300th NHL win, becoming the third-youngest player and third-fastest to reach the milestone On April 11, Fleury recorded his league leading tenth shutout in a 2–0 victory against the Buffalo Sabres to secure the last wild card spot in the East.
In the 2015–2016 season the team struggled through the first half, resulting in the firing of their head coach and the hiring of new coach Mike Sullivan. Fleury played a great second half of the season before suffering a season ending concussion. He finished the season with an impressive 35 wins in 58 games played. The team made a final push with up and comer Matt Murray in goal and qualified for the playoffs. Despite the Penguins qualifying for the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Fleury was unable to play due to post-concussion syndrome until May 20 in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Fleury subbed in for Matt Murray to start the third period. Marc-André Fleury then started game 5, which the Penguins lost 4–3 in overtime. Fleury was then benched in favour of Murray. The Penguins would go on to win the Stanley Cup with Matt Murray in goal, defeating the San Jose Sharks in six games.
Fleury won two silver medals with Team Canada at the IIHF World Junior Championships. He made his first appearance in 2003 in Halifax. Although Canada was defeated by Russia 3–2 in the gold medal game, Fleury posted a 1.57 GAA and was named the Top Goaltender and tournament MVP.
Although Fleury was playing in the NHL the next year leading up to the tournament, the Pittsburgh Penguins lent him to Team Canada. Fleury expressed a desire to remain with his NHL club, but Penguins management decided the high-profile tournament would be good for his development. He led Team Canada to the gold medal game for the second consecutive year, but made a costly mistake that lost his team the championship. With the game tied 3–3 with less than five minutes remaining in regulation, Fleury left his net to play the puck and avert a breakaway opportunity for Patrick O'Sullivan of Team USA. Fleury's clearing attempt, however, hit his own defenceman, Braydon Coburn, and trickled into the net. This proved to be the difference, as the Americans held on for a 4–3 win.
On December 30, 2009, Fleury was named to Team Canada for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. He did not play in the tournament, however, as the goaltending duties were split between Martin Brodeur and Roberto Luongo, but still received a gold medal as Canada defeated the United States 3–2 in the final.
Fleury was born to André and France Fleury in Sorel-Tracy, Quebec, a small town near Montreal. He has one sibling, his younger sister Marylène. When he was first drafted, he lived with Mario Lemieux for a brief period of time as he searched for more permanent living arrangements. He currently resides in Franklin Park, Pennsylvania.
Fleury got married on July 22, 2012, to longtime girlfriend Véronique Larosée. They had been dating since they were 15 years old. In a Twitter Q & A from March 2013, when asked if they were excited for the baby, he replied, "Yeah, really excited about it. A little bit nervous, you know. But I think it will be fun." The couple have two daughters, Estelle (born April 26, 2013) and Scarlett (born July 22, 2015).
|2000–01||Cape Breton Screaming Eagles||QMJHL||35||12||13||2||—||1705||115||0||4.05||0.886|
|2001–02||Cape Breton Screaming Eagles||QMJHL||55||26||14||8||—||3043||141||2||2.78||0.915|
|2002–03||Cape Breton Screaming Eagles||QMJHL||51||17||24||6||—||2889||162||2||3.36||0.910|
|2003–04||Cape Breton Screaming Eagles||QMJHL||10||8||1||1||—||606||20||0||1.98||0.933|
|2000–01||Cape Breton Screaming Eagles||QMJHL||2||0||1||—||—||32||4||0||3.15||0.905|
|2001–02||Cape Breton Screaming Eagles||QMJHL||16||9||7||—||—||1003||55||0||3.29||0.900|
|2002–03||Cape Breton Screaming Eagles||QMJHL||4||0||4||—||—||228||17||0||4.47||0.894|
|2003–04||Cape Breton Screaming Eagles||QMJHL||4||1||3||—||—||251||13||0||3.10||0.886|
- Mike Bossy Trophy (top QMJHL prospect) – 2003
- CHL First All-Star Team – 2003
- Telus Defensive Player of the Year (QMJHL) – 2003
- QMJHL Second All-Star Team – 2003
- Retired jersey #29 (Cape Breton Screaming Eagles) – January 25, 2008
- Rookie of the month – October 2003
- 2x Stanley Cup Champion (Pittsburgh Penguins) – 2009, 2016
- Aldege "Baz" Bastien Memorial Good Guy Award 2009–10, 2011–12 (Pittsburgh Penguins)
- Team MVP (Pittsburgh Penguins) – 2011
- 2x NHL All Star (2011) & (2015)