Recently, Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford indicated that the club’s starting goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury would enter the 2014-15 season without a contract extension. Rutherford said it was not an immediate priority to re-sign the 29-year-old netminder, who is heading into the last year of a seven-year, $35 million deal. His agent, Allan Walsh, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he had no problem with that, saying the decision was “of no consequence at all.” But that doesn’t mean that the lack of a new deal won’t be in the back of Fleury’s mind when he enters training camp next month. His friend and former Penguins teammate Brent Johnson can only imagine the impact that situation might have if he were in Fleury’s skates. “I believe, if that were me, I’d probably take it worse than Marc [has],” Johnson told ESPN.com in a recent telephone conversation. “It could weigh on your mind. I’m not saying it will, but it could.” The 37-year-old Johnson, who backed up Fleury for three years and knows him about as well as anyone, thinks Fleury will handle it like a true professional. A player Johnson describes as “outgoing” and “affable,” Fleury will likely keep any anxiety or unease he may have about the situation private, Johnson said. You won’t see him spouting off to the media or griping behind closed doors, he said. Fleury will want to make his statement in the crease, instead. “His character is unbelievable,” said Johnson, who will be working for Comcast SportsNet as an analyst during Washington Capitals games this season. “He’s a guy that wants to do all his talking on the ice. Every team wants a guy like that. He’s a lead-behind-the-scenes type guy.” Johnson was happy to see his buddy bounce back last season after a well-documented implosion in the spring of 2013, when Fleury gave up 17 goals in five games of the team’s first-round playoff series against the New York Islanders.
Penguins force Fleury to prove himself
ESPN | Sep 3