The Golden Knights had but one representative at Saturday’s NHL All-Star Game in San Jose. And while you may quibble over the Knights having just one player participate, no one can argue about the validity of the player who was selected.
Marc-Andre Fleury belongs in the All-Star Game and this was his fourth appearance in the event.
More important, Fleury is playing at a very high level. Some would argue his performance to date in 2018-19 ranks among his best since he came into the NHL back in 2003. He is 34 years old. He is feeling great. He leads the NHL with six shutouts. And while the Knights are going to make the playoffs, think of where they might be right now if not for Fleury being able to play the majority of the games?
He has played in 45 of Vegas’ 52 games with a record of 27-14-4. Fleury has a 2.59 goals-against average, a .911 save percentage and the six shutouts.
Yes, there should be some concern come the postseason as to his freshness. Assuming there are no mishaps, he’s looking at playing anywhere from 65 to 70 games in net during this season. But that’s a discussion for down the road.
For now, let’s focus on where Fleury is at and where he is going as it pertains to his overall career.
Today, Fleury has 431 wins in the NHL. That places him ninth on the all-time list for victories as a goaltender. He is six wins from tying Jacques Plante, who has 437. He may also catch Terry Sawchuk, who is No. 7 at 445, later this year.
He has already passed Dominik Hasek, Grant Fuhr, Glenn Hall and Tony Esposito in making his way into the top 10. He is one of three active goaltenders on the Top-10 list — Florida’s Roberto Luongo is fourth with 481 wins and Henrik Lundqvist of the Rangers is sixth at 446.
Here is the complete Top-10 list of NHL goaltenders wins:
- Martin Brodeur* — 691 wins
- Patrick Roy* — 551
- Ed Belfour* — 484
- Roberto Luongo — 481
- Curtis Joseph — 454
- Henrik Lundqvist — 446
- Terry Sawchuk* — 445
- Jacques Plante* — 437
- MARC-ANDRE FLEURY — 431
- Tony Esposito* — 423
*Denotes member of Hockey Hall of Fame
Fleury has played against some of these guys. Others he had watched play as a kid growing up in Sorel, Quebec. A couple he had to go to YouTube and Wikipedia to check out. But I thought it would be interesting to get his views on some of the goalies he has passed and some he continues to chase on the list.
I did not ask about Luongo and Lundqvist since they are still active and Fleury has talked about them in the past.
They’re all great players, obviously. They have different styles but they all did the same thing — stop the puck. It’s an honor to be on the (top-10) list. -Marc-Andre Fleury
Let’s start at the top and work our way down.
Martin Brodeur played from 1991-2005 with the New Jersey Devils. He has three Stanley Cup rings. In 17 NHL seasons, he had a 2.01 goals-against average.
I could always see him smile through his mask. I thought that was pretty cool. He was a guy who was very unpredictable. He would use the poke check or stack the pads and I always liked that about him. He was always consistent. He played a lot of games year after year and he was always good. Always very solid. He could read the play so well. He didn’t move so much and he was always in the right spot. –Fleury on Brodeur
Patrick Roy played from 1984-2003 with the Montreal Canadiens and later, the Colorado Avalanche. He has four Stanley Cup titles and had 66 shutouts.
I was a big Montreal fan and I was excited when they won in 1986 and ’93. What comes to mind is he was a fierce competitor. He was always battling. He was very confident and he had that butterfly style and that’s how I learned from him. He was tall for that era but it worked out for him. He was so good for him. He definitely influenced me. -Fleury on Roy
Ed Belfour played from 1988 to 2007. He spent eight years with the Chicago Blackhawks and five with the Dallas Stars. His one Stanley Cup title came with Dallas in 1999. He also played for San Jose, Toronto and Florida.
I got to play against him a bit which was pretty cool. I thought he moved around well for a big goalie. He stayed on his feet and was good at reading the play. He wasn’t hurt much and he played until he was 40, I think. -Fleury on Belfour
Curtis Joseph played from 1989-2009. He spent his career with six different NHL teams, beginning in St. Louis, then with Edmonton, and Toronto. He also had a brief stop in Las Vegas playing with the Thunder in 1995-96 where he appeared in 15 games.
I got to meet him this year after a game. I felt like a fan in there. He didn’t win a Cup but he always had cool equipment, which I liked. He would find a way to stop the puck. He wasn’t a real technical goalie, but he was stylish, which I liked. -Fleury on “Cujo”
Terry Sawchuk played from 1949-1970, mostly with Detroit and Toronto but he also played for Boston, the New York Rangers and Los Angeles. He has four Stanley Cup rings, three with Red Wings, the other with the Maple Leafs. He was part of Toronto’s last Cup winning team back in 1967 and was the goalie for the Kings’ inaugural season in 1968.
I wasn’t born when he played so I watched tape on (Sawchuk). He was a big goalie and bigger than most guys at the time. I noticed that he would peer down at guys who were trying to screen him rather than look over them. He knew the game and how to play the position. -Fleury on Sawchuk
Jacques Plante played from 1952-1973 with the Montreal Canadiens, and New York Rangers before retiring briefly in 1965. While with the Habs, he won six Stanley Cups, including five straight during the Canadiens’ dynasty from 1955-60. He returned to the NHL in 1968 with the St. Louis Blues and finished his career with the Toronto Maple Leafs. In 1959, he devised a facemask after being hit with a puck and is credited with being the father of the modern mask.
I think he was the one who started playing the puck with his stick. He would take the puck outside his crease and make the passes to his D. Obviously, he invented the mask. I couldn’t see myself playing without a mask, especially with the way they shoot the puck today. -Fleury on Plante
Tony Esposito played from 1968-1984 with Montreal (one season) and Chicago. He is the younger brother of Hall of Famer Phil Esposito and had 15 shutouts in his first season with the Blackhawks in 1969-70, thus earning the nickname “Tony O.”
He won the Calder and Vezina Trophies in his first season which I thought was pretty impressive. He had a good glove and he had a lot of shutouts. I actually liked the way he played. -Fleury on Esposito
Glenn Hall played from 1952-1971, mostly with the Chicago Blackhawks. He also played at the beginning of his career with the Detroit Red Wings and at the end of his NHL tenure for the expansion St. Louis Blues. He won the Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 1961 and led the Blues to three appearances in the Stanley Cup Finals. He was a seven-time All-Star and a three-three-time winner of the Vezina Trophy. He is No. 11 on the all-time list with 407 wins.
He was the inventor of the butterfly. He would be on the ice and most guys wouldn’t do that. I heard he used to throw up before games. I think I did it one time in the American League. But he was very durable. He was always out there in net. -Fleury on Hall
Grant Fuhr played from 1981-2000, mostly with the Edmonton Oilers and was in net during the Oilers’ dynasty run from 1984 to 1988 which saw the win four Stanley Cups in a five-year span. He also played for Buffalo, Los Angeles, Toronto, St. Louis and Calgary. He is No. 12 on the all-time list with 403 wins.
I was young when he was playing but I remember the glove saves. He was always spectacular and he was flexible. That’s something I learned to be later — flexible. He didn’t have great stats but he was important for Edmonton and was a big part of their success. He wore a small mask to the beginning and then went to a bigger mask. But I always thought that was kind of ballsy of him to play with that small mask. -Fleury on Fuhr
Dominik Hasek played from 1990-2008. He came over from the Czech Republic to play for Chicago, then Buffalo and later, Detroit with a one-year stop in Ottawa before returning to the Red Wings. Hasek didn’t begin his NHL career until he was 26 but he has two Stanley Cup rings with Detroit (2002 and 2008). He is No. 14 on the all-time wins list with 389.
To me, he was little bit mystifying. He would be diving around, making all these saves. It wasn’t a fluke. He was consistent night after night. He wasn’t perfectly technical but guys find what works well for them. He was conscious of what he was doing and he was good at getting his gloves on the puck. I think he played with instincts. He would drop the stick and freeze the puck with his blocker. He always knew what he was doing. -Fleury on Hasek
There was one other goalie we discussed. He’s not on any list because he never played in the NHL. But he is a Hall of Famer.
Vladislav Tretiak is one of the greatest goalies in hockey history. He played in four Olympics for the Soviet Union (1972, 1976, 1980 and 1984) and played from 1971-1984. He was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in 1986, but never played in the NHL because his country wouldn’t allow him to leave.
I know about the Summit Series (in 1972 between Canada and the USSR) and Canada was supposed to crush Russia. But Tretiak was in great shape and he was very agile and he helped Russia win some of those games. He would do the butterfly. He was a great goalie and he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. -Fleury on Tretiak
For Fleury, his journey continues. He is under contract to the Golden Knights through the 2022 season. He’ll be 37 at that point. Where will he finish on the NHL’s Top-10 list for wins?
I don’t know. It’s great to be up there. I feel fortunate to have been able to play so long and play win so many good teams. To me, it’s an honor to be among these guys because I grew up looking up to them. They’re the legends of the game at my position. They did so much for the game and for goaltending. I think the style (of goaltending) keeps evolving. Hopefully I can teach the young goaltenders to play well. -Fleury on his place among the greats
Of the current Top-10, six are in the Hall of Fame. Lundqvist figures to get in after he retires. Luongo likely gets in as well after he hangs up the pads. Joseph is the only retired player on the top-10 list to have not gotten the call yet and there has been a strong push for Cujo to be inducted.
Fleury’s body of work suggests he will one day be enshrined. His three Cups. His win total. His play in Vegas so far are all contributing factors to what is an impressive resume. He’s still working and having fun doing it.
And he doesn’t even puke before he steps onto the ice. Glenn Hall would be envious.
**Steve Carp is the author of “Vegas Born — The remarkable story of the Golden Knights.” Follow him on Twitter @stevecarp56. All of Steve Carp’s work here on SinBin.vegas is presented to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm. For over twenty-five years, the Jimmerson Law Firm has been widely recognized as one of Las Vegas’s preeminent full-service law firms. Specializing in high stakes business, civil and family litigation, the Jimmerson Law Firm has an unparalleled track record of winning when it matters most. To reach the Jimmerson Law Firm, call (702) 388-7171 and tell them SinBin.vegas sent you.**