Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury may be more willing to play for the Chicago Blackhawks than previously thought.
According to Scott Powers and Rob Rossi of The Athletic, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner has been in touch with Chicago since the team pulled off a surprising trade for the veteran earlier this month that blindsided the Vegas Golden Knight star. After initial reports suggested Fleury was considering retirement, the three-time Stanley Cup champion may walk back from that mindset.
"Multiple sources close to Fleury, including one that has spoken directly with him in recent days, said Fleury and his family had not made a final decision about his future," The Athletic reported. "However, the sources said, Fleury had inquired with 'those who’d know' about Blackhawks ownership, management and coaches—a sign, the sources believed, that Fleury has softened his stance of not wanting to play in Chicago."
The 36-year-old has one year remaining on his contract and is set to earn $6 million this season.
Vegas traded its star netminder for a low-level minor league prospect in an apparent salary dump. Making matters awkward, Fleury reportedly found out about the deal on social media and had little desire to leave the Golden Knights.
He's only ever played for Vegas and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Now entering his age-36 season, the transaction upset Fleury to the point he's considering calling it a career.
Per The Athletic:
"Fleury’s trust level of the Blackhawks will likely factor into his final decision. It is thought Fleury would want at least the assurance from Blackhawks management that he is not traded during the 2021-22 season. With Fleury being in the final year of his contract, he might be seen as a moveable piece at the trade deadline if the Blackhawks fall out of the playoff race, as they have in recent years. The Blackhawks traded Robin Lehner, Fleury’s Vegas teammate, at the deadline during the 2019-20 season. If Fleury did temporarily relocate his family to Chicago, he would not want to uproot them again after only a few months.
"Fleury’s contract cannot be amended with wording to prevent the Blackhawks from trading him. Essentially, he would be taking Bowman at his word — and, as one source said, 'I don’t know Flower could trust anybody after Vegas.'"
The Blackhawks have reportedly been in contact with Fleury since the trade occurred, with general manager Stan Bowman reaching out to the netminder's representatives Thursday.
Chicago remains hopeful Fleury will join the team this season, completing a tandem with Kevin Lankinen as the club looks to return to the postseason in 2021-22.