Fleury second in all-time NHL wins, first in pulling off pranks
Marc-Andre Fleury is leaving an NHL legacy for his talents between the pipes and for what he brings to the locker room.
Feature photo: Getty Images
He holds status as one of hockey’s premier puck-stoppers, but Marc-Andre Fleury of the Minnesota Wild is equally adept as a prank practitioner.
Over a remarkable 20-year NHL career that dates back to 2003, Fleury has cemented himself as one of the best goaltenders to have ever strapped on the pads.
The 39-year-old, who surpassed Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Patrick Roy for second in all-time NHL wins on January 15, also happens to be a league legend when it comes to pulling off elaborate pranks.
No one – rookies, veterans, all-stars – is safe from Fleury’s carefully crafted moments of mischief.
Just ask the three-time Stanley Cup champion’s teammates, past and present.
“A classic prank was hanging guys’ clothes from the rafters of the arena,” recalled Matt Murray, who formed a formidable goaltending tandem with Fleury during their days with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“I think he got [veteran Pittsburgh forward] Bryan Rust in our first year there.”
There are no shortage of players who have found themselves on the receiving end of japes courtesy of Flower.
Playing alongside Fleury for the first 12 years of his career, Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby has been victim to his fair share of Fleury’s pranks, including an infamous incident at the 2022 NHL/NHLPA Player Media Tour in Nevada.
As the story goes, the netminder gathered Crosby’s gear, placed it on the ground, grabbed some hockey tape and proceeded to bundle various pieces of his equipment together before placing it back in Crosby’s stall.
This December, Fleury, on a return trip to Pittsburgh, got his money’s worth at the expense of another former teammate.
The first overall pick 2003 NHL Draft pick taped Evgeni Malkin’s visor while also placing the wrong-coloured helmet in Kris Letang’s locker (which went unnoticed by the defenceman, who subsequently almost wore it during pre-game warmups).
Nick Bonino, who played and won two Stanley Cups with Fleury in Pittsburgh, has been witness to several carefully crafted acts of mischief.
“I don’t think I’ve been a victim, fortunately,” shared Bonino, now with the New York Rangers.
“Hopefully, he doesn’t see this and put me on his list.”
Jonathan Marchessault is also one of Fleury’s former teammates who has made the list.
The forward and fellow Quebec native fell victim to Fleury during the goaltender’s time with the Vegas Golden Knights.
At one morning skate, Marchessault was noticeably absent at the start.
“One time, I was late to practice because he taped all my sticks together and put them on the ice.”
The antics have continued in Fleury’s time with the Wild, most recently with teammate Brandon Duhaime. The forward found his clothes had been stolen in retaliation for Duhaime joking about Fleury’s age in an interview.
Whether they fall prey to his antics or not, his peers hold Fleury in the highest regard.
“Flower has such an infectious personality,” said Bonino. “He is always in a good mood and is always positive. I truly can’t think of a time when I saw him grumpy, on or off the ice.
“Every time we play each other, he’s so vocal on the ice. I’ll have a scoring chance and he’ll throw out an insane poke check, then I’ll hear him scream, ‘poke check!’ and start laughing. It definitely lessens the sting of not scoring, knowing he’s in there just having a blast.”
Murray, now with the Toronto Maple Leafs, saw the same in Fleury during their time in Pittsburgh.
Big win or a tough loss, Fleury always brought the same winning attitude to the rink.
“What makes him a great teammate is his demeanor and his upbeat attitude,” said Murray, who is working on a return to action after being sidelined by hip surgery last October.
“He’s always positive and encouraging and having a good time.”
Marchessault, a veteran of 600 NHL games, also saw the same from Fleury during morning skates in Las Vegas.
“I think what stands out for me is how nice he is every day and also the way he competes in games and practices the same way,” offered Marchessault.
“In practice, when I would come down on him, whoever scored or saved was celebrating.”
If Marchessault happened to come out on top, he knew what might be coming if his celebrations were deemed a little over the top by the man between the pipes.
“He is always up to something,” he said with a laugh.
Words that Fleury continues to live by – happily.