As an athlete, you always want to know that your agent has your back, but this is certainly a strange spin on that concept.
Allan Walsh, the longtime rep for Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, posted a wordless tweet on Saturday — wait, actually there was one word, “DeBoer,” on the blade of a sword plunged into the back and out of the chest of the 35-year-old netminder.
Fleury went 27-16-5 with a .905 save percentage and 2.77 goals against average this season for the Golden Knights, whom he backstopped to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season in 2018. That playoff run, which included four shutouts, vanquished a lot of the playoff demons for Fleury, who won three Cups with Pittsburgh but only once was the goalie for the clinching game, as Matt Murray took over between the pipes in 2016 and 2017.
Now, history is repeating itself. Fleury got off to a rough start in the bubble, giving up four goals on 17 shots to the St. Louis Blues in a round-robin game on August 6, though he did record the win. After that, Vegas coach Peter DeBoer, who was hired at midseason after Gerard Gallant was fired, put trade deadline acquisition Robin Lehner in net, and Fleury has played only once since. He stopped 26 of 27 shots in Game 3 of the first round against Chicago, but that was not enough to reclaim his spot.
In his four starts in the first round, Lehner posted a .905 save percentage, well under the .920 mark he compiled between Chicago and Vegas during the regular season. Last year’s Jennings and Masterton Trophy winner, Lehner has a career .923 save percentage in the postseason, compared to .911 for Fleury.
It’s understandable that Walsh would be frustrated watching his client be passed over in this situation, as it isn’t like DeBoer is playing the hot hand with Lehner. But as the Golden Knights prepare for their Western Conference semifinal against the Vancouver Canucks, which opens Sunday night in Edmonton, it’s hard to see how Walsh very publicly sowing discord is going to help Fleury’s case to get more time in net.
Fleury had a .909 save percentage in last year’s playoffs, which included him allowing four goals in Game 5, and overtime losses in Games 6 and 7 of the first round, the latter after a three-goal Vegas lead evaporated in the third period. The Golden Knights’ opponent, as they coughed up a 3-1 series lead? That would be the San Jose Sharks, coached at the time by DeBoer.
Correction: Our headline originally identified the picture as Robin Lehner.