PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Marc-Andre Fleury is embarking on a new chapter in his career, but he has issued an emotional “thank you” to fans of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
In an article for The Players’ Tribune, Fleury talks about coming to Pittsburgh as an 18-year-old and spending the next 14 years of his life with the organization.
One of his earliest memories was stopping Mario Lemieux during a training camp practice and how he still has the puck.
“I remember the first time I stopped Mario in practice. It was a simple warmup shot. But you better believe that I kept that puck — and still have it at home.”
WATCH: Fleury’s Final Press Conference As A Penguin —
One of Fleury’s most-memorable moments came on a particular June evening in 2009. It was Game 7 against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.
A year earlier, the Red Wings had defeated the Penguins in the Stanley Cup Final, but it would be different this time around. Fleury was incredible in the game, but saved the best for last – literally.
Fleury dove to stop Nicklas Lidstrom on a rebound chance at the buzzer. Many refer to that as the “Secret Service Save.”
“I proudly sported a deep bruise on my ribs from that save for weeks following that game. I’ll always remember my teammates jumping on the ice, racing toward me with the biggest smiles. The feeling of winning the Stanley Cup that night is indescribable.”
Fleury goes on to talk about some other special moments, but he’ll always remember the fans and the support they showed from day one. He even credited the fans will helping to turn his season around this year by chanting his name prior to a game against Tampa Bay.
“It made no sense. I wasn’t playing well. The game hadn’t even started yet. But they were behind me anyway,” Fleury said. Maybe they could sense that I was feeling a little down, and I needed it. We ended up winning the game, things turned around for me, and I ended up having a great season. That moment was the turning point, and it was because of our fans.”
So now, Fleury starts to prepare for life as the goaltender for the Las Vegas Golden Knights. But, he’s got an eye on the schedule for when he’ll face his former teammates.
And, he issued a friendly warning to good friend Sidney Crosby.
“Next time we face each other, make sure you keep your head up. The poke check will be coming, like that one time in Rimouski.”
He’s also looking forward to returning to Pittsburgh and playing in front of the fans again.
“I don’t know how it will feel when I set foot in the PPG Paints Arena in February as the Vegas goaltender. Truthfully, right now I can’t even think about it. But what I do know is that I will be thrilled to see you all again.”
If you’re wondering, Fleury will lead the Golden Knights into Pittsburgh on Feb. 6.