Penguins' Fleury dodges questions about future
Goalies think only about their next stop. Marc-Andre Fleury is trying to avoid that.
Displaced as the Penguins starter — a role he had held for 79 straight Stanley Cup playoff games before Tomas Vokoun took over for Game 5 in Round 1 — Fleury is not sure about his future with the organization beyond this postseason.
“I'm trying not to think about it,” Fleury said Wednesday after a practice at Consol Energy Center. “I don't want to think about it.”
Vokoun is likely to start Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final against Boston at Consol Energy Center on Saturday night.
He does not feel like the starting job is his, though.
Fleury said Wednesday he is hesitant to say anything for fear of providing a distraction.
Still, for a second straight practice, he was not given treatment typical for a backup, which is to say he faced a lot more action when regulars were on the ice.
Fleury, 28, is paid like a franchise goalie at $5 million annually. There are two seasons remaining on his contract.
General manager Ray Shero, who has two compliance buyouts at his disposal this and next season, does not discuss personnel matters during the playoffs.
His previously stated two offseason objectives are long-term extensions for center Evgeni Malkin and defenseman Kris Letang. With limited salary-cap space, he will also look to retain the services of impending free agents from a group that includes wingers Pascal Dupuis, and possibly Matt Cooke and Jarome Iginla.
All of that — and the continued MVP-like play of Vokoun, 36, but signed for next season — could make Fleury expendable via a buyout or trade.
However, there remains no indication Fleury, a two-time Cup finalist, is finished for this playoff run.
Coach Dan Bylsma has consistently declined to publicly commit to Vokoun, who has gone 6-1-1 on the strength of a .941 save percentage and 1.85 goals-against average.
Earlier this week, Bylsma appeared to plant a seed for The Flower to again bloom for the Penguins.
“He's been practicing extremely well, and I think he's ready to go in there and stop the puck when he gets that chance, when he gets that opportunity,” Bylsma said of Fleury on Monday.
Bylsma looks to be preparing both goalies for the short term.
What comes after that will require a lot more thought by the Penguins.