In a shocking decision, the Chicago Blackhawks Acquire Reigning Vezina Trophy Winner Marc-Andre Fleury
The Golden Knights are parting ways with the flower power.
The Golden Knights officially announced that they have traded Marc-Andre Fleury — the defending Vezina Trophy winner and three-time Stanley Cup Champion — to the Chicago Blackhawks.
In exchange, Chicago traded minor-league forward Mikael Hakkarainen. The team also plans on covering the remaining $7 million on his contract.
The trade is the first time that a reigning Vezina Trophy winner has been traded before an upcoming season since the Buffalo traded Dominik Hasek to Detroit in 2001.
“The opportunity to acquire a Vezina-winning goaltender is rare and one you cannot pass up,” said Blackhawks President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Stan Bowman in a press release. “Marc-Andre improves our goaltending, strengthens our team defense and will have a huge impact on the overall development of the Blackhawks. Having a goaltender like this on our team will put the talent we currently have on our roster in a better position to achieve sustained success.”
Fleury’s trade to Chicago sent shockwaves across the Golden Knights’ fanbase, with some fans claiming that the goaltender was blindsided by the decision and only found out about the trade through Twitter.
Despite these claims, Vegas Golden Knights General Manager Kelly McCrimmon said that there had been communication between the two about Chicago’s interest during the offseason.
“It was on Twitter before we had our trade call completed. There were many discussions between the time leading up to today,” Golden Knights General Manager Kelly McCrimmon said during a video conference with members of the media.
McCrimmon mentioned that the news about the deal broke on Twitter before the trade call was completed and that he would never tell a player they were traded until after a call in case things fell through
The general manager cited the reasons for the trade were to improve cap space and the team’s performance but acknowledged the decision was not an easy one.
“I know for a lot of people this is a day that is filled with sadness. I share those same emotions that you do and yet I do feel responsible to do everything I can to put the best team on the ice possible. That’s what I’m doing as well as our whole hockey operations group,” McCrimmon said.
He also mentioned Hakkarainen will continue playing for Chicago and that team is looking to add a backup goalie.
Big Ice Skates to Fill
It’s safe to say it won’t be easy replacing Fleury’s presence.
Fleury’s career spans over 17 seasons in the NHL from 2003-2017 with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and 2017-2021 with Vegas.
The star-studded goaltender owns a record of 492-276-2-80 with a 2.55 GAA, .913 SV%, as well as 67 shutouts in 883 regular-season appearances. The 67 shutouts rank 14th on the NHL’s all-time shutout list. Fleury also has 90 career postseason victories, a 2.53 GAA, .912 SV% and 16 shutouts in 162 playoff appearances. Ironically, the Sorel, Quebec native picked up his first career shutout against Chicago in 2003.
Fleury was selected by Vegas in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft, and played an integral part in catapulting the team’s success since its inaugural season. During his first season with the Golden Knights, Fleury went 12-3 in the first three rounds of the season’s playoffs — helping Vegas become the first expansion team to advance to the Stanley Cup Final since the 1967-68 St. Louis Blues.
Despite the trade, there’s speculation that Fleury — who turns 37 in November — may opt for retirement instead for family reasons since he has settled down in Las Vegas with his family. Fleury has also indicated before that he hoped to stick around with and finish his career with the Golden Knights.
As of this time, Fleury has not released an official statement regarding the team’s trade. Whether he chooses to stick with Chicago or retire from the NHL will surely stir another ripple effect across the hockey world.
What is certain though, is that Fleury’s impact on the Golden Knights and Las Vegas will always be remembered.
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