“Altogether, talking with [president of hockey operations] George [McPhee] and [general manager Kelly [McCrimmon] and family, I thought it was the best route to go for myself and the team,” Fleury said after Saturday’s game against the St. Louis Blues. “Spend a little time with the family, too.”
Fleury, who turned 35 on Nov. 28, was selected for the game as the Golden Knights’ lone representative when the rosters were released on Monday. By him skipping, Vancouver Canucks goalie Jakob Markstrom will take his place.
Fleury had contemplated skipping the game when he spoke Monday, but did not fully commit to making the decision. By rule, Fleury will be suspended one game; either the one before the All-Star break (Jan. 21 against the Boston Bruins) or following the break (Jan. 31 against the Carolina Hurricanes). Vegas plays the Nashville Predators on Feb. 1, so that Hurricanes game might be it.
“Don’t get me wrong, I like going, I think it’s a lot of fun,” Fleury said. “I love to hang out with the players there. It’s a huge honor to be a part of it. I’m sorry to the fans I disappointed for not going. I thought about it.”
Fleury is about to get a week-and-a-half of rest, which for the Golden Knights’ pursuit of a Pacific Division title and a strong finish for the rest of the regular season, it’s a decision that makes sense.
Fleury made 27 saves Saturday for his third consecutive victory, giving him 457 in his career. He’s one behind New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist for fifth place all-time.
Should Lundqvist not play/win over the next few days, Fleury will get an opportunity to tie Lundqvist on Tuesday against his former team, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“Mentally, physically,” Fleury added, “it was just the right thing.”