It has been a couple of months now since goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury left the Pittsburgh Penguins after being picked up by the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft.
Fleury’s departure from the Pittsburgh Penguins seemed to be imminent. Ever since Matt Murray stunned the league by storming through the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs as a rookie, the Pens knew they had a new number one goalie in town.
Well it seems as though Fleury’s departure is still leaving an emotional impact on teammates, and as Matt Murray told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in an article published Thursday, he feels responsible for Fleury’s departure.
“Marc had been such a fixture in Pittsburgh,” Murray said in the interview with the Post-Gazette. “To an extent, I feel like I was responsible for him leaving that. I know he probably would rather stay in Pittsburgh his entire career, for sure. I definitely feel bad in that regard.
Murray seems to be as humble a guy as ever. Well I’m here to say that Matt Murray should not feel like it’s his fault that Fleury had to leave Pittsburgh. In fact, by the way things were going it was bound to happen.
A New Starter Was Needed
Let’s face it here, an aging Marc-Andre Fleury was on a downward spiral. He had a fantastic 2014-15 season with a 2.32 GAA and a .920% save percentage. Not to mention the 10 shutouts that season. But Fleury was aging and the Penguins didn’t seem to have a replacement for him yet. Not to mention, if the Penguins wanted to keep resigning their core, they would need to save on cap space. If they wanted to stay competitive, they not only needed a replacement, they needed an upgrade.
In comes the young Matt Murray. Although he played in 13 games during the regular season, he really shined in the playoffs. When Fleury wasn’t playing amazingly, it was Murray who backstopped the team to numerous victories. Eventually he won the Cup for the Pens and the team knew they found their replacement.
What If Murray Never Came?
Now let’s think about if the Penguins never had Murray to save the team’s goaltending situation. As I said before, Fleury was aging, and his numbers were starting to get worse. His cosistency just wasn’t there and that was expected. On top of all this, there was the need for cap space.
The sudden blossom of Murray helped the Penguins in all these regards. It helped the team increase in competitiveness and be strong enough to win back-to-back cups. The arrival of Matt Murray as a number one goaltender allowed Fleury to be expendable for the good of the team. We may miss Fleury, but his departure freed up cap space to help us keep other core players.
So don’t feel bad Matt Murray. Be glad that you helped make this team better. You helped Fleury win two more Cups. Whether it be as a starter or a backup, Fleury’s time here was not foiled by Murray.