Dear Marc-Andre Fleury,
As you are sure to hear from many in Vegas Golden Knights Nation (yeah, we need to think of a better name for the fan base), I am a huge fan. As a Canadian, I have been a huge fan since 2003 when you led Team Canada to a silver medal in the World Junior Championship.
Though, if I'm being honest, it had little to do with the games. It's more accurate to say that I became a fan the moment I saw those yellow pads.
Those pads were different. Unique. In a sport where the culture often suppresses uniqueness — much to its detriment — there was something strangely refreshing about the yellow on the TV screen, and that feeling continued when I'd turn on a Penguins game in the earlier years of your career and saw the yellow pads between the pipes.
And then they went away.
Off the suggestion of optometrist Dr. Janet Leduc, you changed to white pads. It was shocking for those of us who loved the yellows.
And sure, the reasons were sound. Yellow is the easiest color for people to see and it made it easier for shooters to spot you when rushing up the ice. It's safe to say your on-ice results improved dramatically after the change.
You've had some great success since the change. Over the last nine seasons, you've had a .915 save percentage. You've won three Stanley Cups — one as the starting goalie — but you played a key role in the most recent run, too. The change, at least in terms of your career success, has been a good one.
But, let's be honest, Flower. The next couple of seasons will likely not resemble those you've experienced recently. This team is not the Pittsburgh Penguins. Actually, more accurately, the Golden Knights will closely resemble the Penguins you played behind as a rookie.
Yeah, those 2003-04 Penguins who finished with 58 points. Sorry. (Welcome to Vegas!)
The Golden Knights have a roster of mix-and-match pieces that may or may not play well within coach Gerard Gallant's system. He's a fine coach, his views on analytics notwithstanding, but there is only so much he can do for a team clearly poised to be building for the future.
I won't go so far as to say the next couple of seasons "don't matter,” because of course they do. To the organization, they have great importance — building a fan base, creating a brand, and developing the younger players. For you, for the existing Golden Knights roster — you likely won't see much in the way of meaningful hockey in Vegas over the next two seasons, if we're being honest.
The years will be tough. For the fans (somebody please think of the children!). If ever there were a time for you to have a little fun, to bring a smile back to many faces (or maybe just mine), stats be damned, these lean seasons are it. Consider how happy people were to see them in 2014.
Besides, a nice golden yellow would go good with these jerseys, don't you think?
There is one important reason for you to bring back the yellow pads of destiny — the other goalies who have taken to wearing colorful pads. For you, the man once synonymous with the brightly-colored goalie pads, to not be among them, it's a tragedy.
Brian Elliott wore bright red pads in Calgary and solid blue in St. Louis. Current Blues goalie Jake Allen wears blue and yellow pads while Corey Crawford wears black.
With so many usurpers to the throne of League's Best Pads, it's time for the king to return.
It's time to bring back them back, Flower
Mike Hannah and the Knights On Ice staff