Marc Andre Fleury not being invited to Team Canada’s orientation camp is a hot topic. To most outside of Pittsburgh, it wasn’t a surprise. The Penguins coaches and management continue to point out Fleury’s success in the regular season when defending him but performance in the playoffs matters and in fact it matters a lot.
Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma was on The X Morning show today and Bylsma said that he was “surprised” Fleury wasn’t invited. Bylsma like any member of the organization has done the past couple months, was talk about Fleury’s regular season success. Bylsma cited Fleury having more wins in the last four years than any of the five goaltenders invited to Team Canada’s camp. Word is others outside of Pittsburgh don’t see it that way as many executives and evaluators feel Fleury is just a product of playing behind a consistent contender, a reason for his strong regular season numbers.
The latest storyline surrounding Fleury now is him agreeing to see a sports psychologist. The Penguins pushed for this last summer but Fleury wasn’t interested. Now he plans to meet with one.
“Goalie is a delicate position, no different than a golfer or a tennis player: You’re on your own a lot,” Penguins GM Ray Shero told Joe Starkey. “I think it’s a good step for him, which he’s really taken seriously since our year-end meeting. It’s kind of like the situation with Matt Cooke in that you can’t just hope you’re going to come back and things are going to be different. A lot of guys talk to somebody. It’s a confidence thing.”
Shero clearly see’s this as a positive step and he makes some good points but Fleury needing to see a sports psychologist in the first place should scare the Penguins in my opinion.
Publicly maybe what Fleury needs is some tough love. The Penguins have babied him and it might not had been a bad thing for Bylsma and Shero to come out this off-season and say Fleury’s play in the post-season has been “unacceptable” and the Penguins should have come out and said there will be an open competition for the No. 1 goaltender spot, not hand him the job like Bylsma did in his end of the season press conference two days after the Penguins were eliminated.
This situation is shaping up where the best thing for both parties is likely going to be a change of scenery but the Penguins have decided to roll the dice and push forward with Fleury. What he does in the regular season doesn’t matter and for a goaltender who relies so heavily on athleticism to be entering his late 20’s is worrisome when there is a huge confidence issue which Fleury has if he needs to see a sports psychologist in the first place.
It’s possible Fleury is hitting the downside of his career as there are question marks from scouts if Fleury can play at a high level into his early 30’s when his elite athleticism starts to go some.