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Penguins

Hype dies down for Marc-Andre Fleury's second return to Pittsburgh ice

Jonathan Bombulie
| Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, 2:51 p.m.
Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) looks on during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Buffalo Sabres, Monday, Oct. 8, 2018, in Buffalo N.Y.
Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) looks on during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Buffalo Sabres, Monday, Oct. 8, 2018, in Buffalo N.Y.

When the Vegas Golden Knights visited the Pittsburgh Penguins last February, it was one of the most eagerly anticipated regular-season home games PPG Paints Arena had ever seen.

Beloved longtime goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made an emotional return to the city he called home for the previous decade. There were tears.

The Golden Knights will be back in town for another meeting Thursday night, but this time, Fleury’s return is largely being met with shrugs.

There’s a good reason for that, too. Fleury isn’t expected to play. Since the Golden Knights were in Washington on Wednesday, it’s highly unlikely the 33-year-old goaltender will start on consecutive days.

“It’s always one everyone looks to when he comes to town, but the fact that he’s not playing and the fact that he played here last year probably changes it a bit,” captain Sidney Crosby acknowledged.

One other reason Fleury’s visit lacks some of the luster it did last season: With each passing year, there will be fewer and fewer Penguins players with strong emotional ties to their former teammate.

Just look in the Penguins net for an example.

Casey DeSmith is expected to get the start with Matt Murray sidelined due to a concussion.

Not only were DeSmith and Fleury never teammates, they barely know each other. DeSmith said the most time he spent with Fleury was at a Penguins goalie camp a few years ago.

It was enough time to make an impression, though, which is probably why Fleury’s visits to town will never become completely routine.

“I don’t think my opinion is different than anyone else’s. He’s an awesome guy,” DeSmith said. “He’s really easy going. He’s fun to be around, great to talk to, funny. I’ve got nothing but good things to say about him.”

Follow the Pittsburgh Penguins all season long.

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan at jbombulie@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.

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