Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Marc-Andre Fleury in the Hot Seat

The Penguins’ curiously laid-back last line of defense is not your average 'tender.




Photos © 2013 Pittsburgh Penguins
 

 

The hockey goaltender has always been a mercurial figure — personified by the black-and-white LIFE magazine photos of ’50s-era ’tenders posing dourly without masks, their faces stitched up like baseball leather. Or, at best, trivialized as goonish lugnuts like Slap Shot’s iconic Denis Lemieux (“You go to the box … you feel shame … and then you get free.”).

A goalie is supposed to be either a brooding loner (Tom Barrasso; Patrick Roy) or an unpredictable powderkeg (Dominik Hasek; Ron Hextall). And considering the kind of intestinal fortitude it takes to hurl oneself in front of a 104 mile-per-hour slapshot in various positions of masochistic yoga, these fellas should be a little weird, right?

Then there’s Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, living inside the lonely biodome of sports-talk radio vitriol and loaded expectations. He’s a guy who — for some reason — is out there having more fun than anyone.

It’s 11 a.m. on March 13, just 14 hours after the Penguins came back from a two-goal deficit to beat the Boston Bruins, and Fleury is in the net for morning practice, gleefully barking a running play-by-play like an R-rated Mike Lange. He saves his best commentary for loquacious grinders Tanner Glass and Matt Cooke.

“Cookie gives it to everybody else,” Fleury explains with a laugh. “What goes around comes around — is that the saying? Don’t feel bad for him!”

Later, as the team huddles around coach Dan Bylsma, Cooke gets retribution by “accidentally” drinking from the wrong end of the Gatorade bottle, drenching Fleury instead. Cooke finds the gambit more hilarious than anyone, sticking his tongue through his checkerboard grin.

In the breakaway contest at the end of practice, Fleury casts himself in some kind of bizarro photo shoot. When the goalless Glass trudges down and winds up, Fleury lies down on the ice, pads stacked, reclined cheekily on his elbow like Burt Reynolds on a bearskin rug. Fleury stops the puck. When lumbering defenseman Deryk Engelland tries his luck, Fleury slides across to make the save but doesn’t bother to stop his momentum. He spins off into orbit with a laugh.

Then, on to Sidney Crosby. “The most fun guy to stop, for me, is Sid,” Fleury says. “Because he just tries so hard, and he’ll keep coming back until he scores.” Crosby attempts to go top-shelf on Fleury, aiming for the Gatorade bottle resting atop the goal for extra humiliation. Fleury flashes his glove. Crosby waits for the net to move, then dips his head as he skates away. Fleury, savoring the moment, suspends himself in a dramatic split.

Crosby skates away to, as Denis Lemieux would say, “feel shame.” The onlooking Penguins react with fervor.

It’s the kind of mood that coaches wish they could bottle. It’s the reason the Penguins believed in their goalie after he let up five goals in Game 5 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals. It’s the reason that, in the next two deciding games, Fleury stonewalled the Detroit Red Wings. And it’s the reason why, with two seconds left in Game 7, with Fleury’s momentum going one way and the Stanley Cup the other, he dove across the crease to make an absurdist save in the way that only he can — by abandoning all technique and reason. The way you do it if you’re still having fun.
 

You have a reputation around the league as a bit of a conversationalist; you love to chirp at opponents on the ice. Who gives it back the best? 
No. 1 is probably Ryan Malone. We played together here for a while, and when we play against one another now, he’s usually always hanging out in front of my net. I give him stick. He’s fun to mess with. [Alex] Ovechkin likes to brag, like, if he doesn’t score, “Oh, that one was close.” And I’ll be like, “Yeah right, not a chance.”

You got married last summer and invited all of your teammates to the wedding. That must’ve been quite a party. Who had the most beers?
Oh man, that’s a tough one. I didn’t keep track. Let’s just say everyone had … um … a lot of fun.

Who has the hardest shot in the league? 
Either Zdeno Chara or Shea Weber. If you get a shot in the stomach from one of those guys, you feel it for a while.

Fill in the blank: You spend 75 percent of your downtime on the road doing what? 
I love to go for a swim in the hotel pool. That was the best thing traveling as a kid, too. It’s one of those things that’s still cool.

What’s one thing you miss about the Civic Arena? 
How loud it got.

Biggest perk about CONSOL? 
No mice running around. [Laughs] No, we’re spoiled now. It’s all top-notch.

A lot of goalies are into yoga now. Are you a fan? 
No, I tried it once and hated it. Too relaxing, man.

So the rule is, when you lose the shootout at practice, you have to grow a mustache. Who’d be the best Mustache Boy? 
Kris Letang would be funny — he’s so self-conscious about his looks. He’d be mad for sure.

Pascal Dupuis said some of the Flyers are actually cool off the ice. Is he for real? 
Uh … [Long pause] I heard from Max Talbot that [Scott] Hartnell is a good guy. Like he used to hate him when he was here, but he’s actually a good guy. [Editor’s note: At this point, teammate Craig Adams starts shaking his head at the next locker. “I don’t believe him,” Adams says.] Well, see? You can make your own opinion.  [Laughs] 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Electric Scooter Rideshare Launching in Pittsburgh

Scoobi will offer an eco-friendly alternative to cars and a speedier alternative to bikes beginning in June

Is Kennywood's Phantom’s Revenge Best Coaster in USA?

The fastest amusement park ride in Pennsylvania is currently in the running for best roller coaster — and it’s gained plenty of speed.

Director and “Mr. McFeely” Discuss “Won't You Be My Neighbor?”

The director of the forthcoming Mr. Rogers documentary sits down with the longtime Mr. McFeely and Pittsburgh Magazine.

Pittsburgh Teen Chess Phenom to Host Her First-Ever Tourney

Chess enthusiast Ashley Lynn Priore hopes to enrich the Steel City’s involvement in one of the most classic and challenging of board games.

Hungry for Something Good, Pittsburgh? Where We're Eating in June

We're obsessed with Greekfreez vegan frozen treats, taking a first look at the new menu at Independent Brewing Company and traveling to The Tavern on the Square. Plus, we talk to Poulet Bleu pastry chef James D. Wroblewski II.

Working in a Steel Mill Turns Fantastical in 'The Glass Lung'

Pittsburgher Anjali Sachdeva’s first book blends the normal with fantasy in nine short stories.

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in June

This month's best bets in the ’Burgh.

Pittsburgh Flicks and Nightlife in June

PM Nightlife Editor Sean Collier explores the popularity of Coughlin's Law on Mt. Washington and the future of Jump Cut Theater.

Pittsburgh's Can't Miss Concerts in June

The Pittsburgh music calendar is packed this month. Check out some of our suggestions for the best ways to spend those steamy summer nights.

June: Best of Culture in Pittsburgh

Check out some of the finest stage plays, dance performances and exhibits taking place this month in Pittsburgh.

Undercover: What We're Reading in June

Reviews of Smoketown: The Untold Story of the Other Great Black Renaissance by Mark Whitaker and Abandoned Pittsburgh: Steel and Shadows by Chuck Beard

Perspectives: How Cold Is Too Cold for Spiders to Live?

A former Marine and Pittsburgh firefighter comes face-to-face with his biggest fear.

Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh Faces Centennial Challenges

This year marks a milestone anniversary — and questions regarding the emerging digital economy — for the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh.

Highmark Stadium Struggles To Accommodate Music Fans

The Station Square venue could be a good place to see a concert. It's not there yet.

CMU Launches America’s First Degree in Artificial Intelligence

Starting this fall, undergraduates at Carnegie Mellon will have the option to earn a degree in one of the world’s fastest growing fields.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Electric Scooter Rideshare Launching in Pittsburgh

Electric Scooter Rideshare Launching in Pittsburgh

Scoobi will offer an eco-friendly alternative to cars and a speedier alternative to bikes beginning in June

Comments

Is Kennywood's Phantom’s Revenge Best Coaster in USA?

Is Kennywood's Phantom’s Revenge Best Coaster in USA?

The fastest amusement park ride in Pennsylvania is currently in the running for best roller coaster — and it’s gained plenty of speed.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Lorelei Will Open in the Former Livermore/Pines Space

Lorelei Will Open in the Former Livermore/Pines Space

The owners of Independent Brewing Company and Hidden Harbor plan to bring a beer hall and cafe to East Liberty.

Comments

An Inclusive Community Breaks the Ramadan Fast at Salem's Market & Grill

An Inclusive Community Breaks the Ramadan Fast at Salem's Market & Grill

The Strip District restaurant draws a diverse community to its nightly ifṭār buffet.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Best Places to Introduce Children to the Performing Arts

Best Places to Introduce Children to the Performing Arts

When you see a show at one of these organizations, you may enjoy it as much as the children.

Comments

The 4 Best Sports to Try This Spring in Pittsburgh

The 4 Best Sports to Try This Spring in Pittsburgh

Looking to switch up your physical activity now that it finally feels like spring? We found four sports you can play locally that you may never have considered.

Comments


Highmark Stadium Struggles To Accommodate Music Fans

Highmark Stadium Struggles To Accommodate Music Fans

The Station Square venue could be a good place to see a concert. It's not there yet.

Comments

Take a Tricky Trip To Mars at Escape Room 51

Take a Tricky Trip To Mars at Escape Room 51

The new escape room in Pleasant Hills is a great game for newer players.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Here We Go? Steelers Have More Than a New England Issue This Time

Here We Go? Steelers Have More Than a New England Issue This Time

At this time last year the Steelers perceived themselves, and rightfully so, as a team that was a mere win over the Patriots away from returning to the Super Bowl. This year, the focus is elsewhere.

Comments

Surprising Pirates Proving to be an Acquired Taste This Season

Surprising Pirates Proving to be an Acquired Taste This Season

For the time being, at least, fans continue to send owner Bob Nutting a message wrapped in apathy.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The 400-Word Review: Solo: A Star Wars Story

The 400-Word Review: Solo: A Star Wars Story

The Star Wars series experiments with telling an origin story, with mixed results.

Comments

The 400-Word Review: Pope Francis: A Man of His Word

The 400-Word Review: Pope Francis: A Man of His Word

The careful documentary is a valuable document of the pontiff's philosophy. As a film, there are issues.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Wine Classes Keep the Pre-Wedding Celebration Classy

Wine Classes Keep the Pre-Wedding Celebration Classy

Palate Partners School of Wine & Spirits offers a chance for brides- and grooms-to-be to explore libations before (or instead of) a night on the town.

Comments

He Recovers from Stroke to Officiate Granddaughter's Wedding

He Recovers from Stroke to Officiate Granddaughter's Wedding

It was always Ashley Watkins’ dream to have her grandfather perform her wedding ceremony — but a serious illness almost got in the way.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
From Milan to Pittsburgh: These are the Kitchen Concepts of the Future

From Milan to Pittsburgh: These are the Kitchen Concepts of the Future

Local interior designer Lauren Levant traveled to Italy for the influential Salon del Mobile show featuring the latest innovations in the furniture and design industry. With an emphasis on quality over quantity, these are the kitchen concepts she says will be making their way stateside.

Comments

Get Creative: Pittsburgh Podcast Inspires 'Girl Bosses'

Get Creative: Pittsburgh Podcast Inspires 'Girl Bosses'

Thinking about starting a creative business but don't know where to start? From photography to interior design, Gamechangers, the new podcast from local textile designer Savannah Hayes, gives a behind-the-scenes look at the design industry from the female perspective.

Comments