In case you missed the mega-news announced earlier today, the Vegas Golden Knights traded Vezina Trophy winning goaltender and franchise icon Marc Andre Fleury to the Chicago Blackhawks for... nothing. Literally they dumped his $7 million contract off on the Blackhawks for minor leaguer Mikael Hakkarainen.
Check it out:
But here's the thing... if you think the Blackhawks are getting a Vezina Trophy winning goalie for free... well... think again. Fleury's agent Allan Walsh reports that Fleury himself heard about the trade via Twitter and will consider his NHL future before committing to the Blackhawks.
Check it out:
All of this is to say that there's a very real chance that Fleury will refuse to report to Chicago and never play in the NHL again. He made it clear that he was only interested in playing for the Golden Knights or the Pittsburgh Penguins, his former team, and that he would retire if moved elsewhere. It looks like the Golden Knights and the Blackhawks are holding his feet to the fire a bit and... well fans aren't too happy about it.
Check out some of these reactions to the Golden Knights' official "thank you" message to Fleury:
Ouch... hard to say I don't agree. This is no way to treat a veteran player, especially one who has been the face of your franchise since Day 1. Absolutely appalling way of doing business from the Golden Knights here.
Fleury had a 10 team no-trade list and it's not clear whether or not Chicago was on his list, but this move paves the way for some more shuffling of the deck in Vegas. Clearly the team was going to have difficulties bringing back both Fleury and Robin Lehner in the crease next season, but they actually seemed content to ride things out with Fleury especially given just how well he played this season and how popular of a person he is with fans and teammates. Still... this is a business and you can't blame Vegas for making a tough financial decision. The fact of the matter is that Fleury is older and more expensive than Lehner, so you just knew that something was in the works. Today's transaction simply proves what we all assumed, that Vegas had been looking to offload Fleury essentially for nothing.
Now the question is whether or not Fleury reports to Chicago once training camp opens in September.