One of the greatest disappointments of the Calgary Flames off season was not having an opportunity to sign Marc-Andre Fleury. I was so troubled by the fact that he wouldn’t alter his no-trade clause that I had to turn to the expert for answers: the one and only Bob McKenzie.
I’m not gonna lie. I am not excited about the Calgary Flames goaltending situation.
In my opinion, Mike Smith and Eddie Lack are not marked improvements over Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson. Furthermore, I am not convinced that Smith and Lack were the best goalies available at the time. I understand that GM Brad Treliving had experience with Smith in Arizona. And Head Coach Glen Gulutzan worked with Lack in Vancouver. But, is hiring the guy from your last job the best way to piece together a championship team? I think not.
The selections of Smith and Lack are frustrating. It is far more frustrating, however, to ponder the fact that the Flames never had a chance at arguably the market’s best goalie: Marc-Andre Fleury.
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I salivated at the notion of seeing Fleury in a Flames jersey, because it made such perfect sense.
He was on the way out of Pittsburgh. Matt Murray had taken over the starting spot, leaving Fleury unprotected from selection by the Vegas Golden Knights at the expansion draft. He had, in fact, put himself in that position. When he waived his no-movement clause in advance of the trade deadline, he made himself available for expansion and put the Penguins in a position where they could keep him around for the playoffs. Ultimately, a wise choice for Fleury (he earned is 3rd Stanley Cup ring).
It seemed logical to me that Fleury would want a starting job for another competitive team come 2017-2018. The Golden Knights are not likely going to see any post season play for quite some time. Given that, and that goaltending was Calgary’s glaring weak spot last year, the fit seemed perfect. The Flames just had to make an acceptable trade offer to the Penguins, thus compelling Fleury to add Calgary to the teams to which he would accept a trade.
But his no-trade list never changed.
Why was Fleury unwilling to alter his no-trade clause to include the Calgary Flames? Or any other competitive team, for that matter? Why was he so content to go to Vegas, perhaps never to see another playoff game?
These questions haunted me all summer. They kept me up at night. I needed closure!
It wasn’t like I could ask Fleury. I didn’t have his number. He and I do not exactly travel in the same circles. I’m also not an accredited member of the media. So, it’s not like he’d return my calls anyway.
So I had to turn to the expert: TSN’s Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie.
I have been watching McKenzie for years. There is, in my opinion, nobody who reports on the NHL more accurately or fairly. So, when he released his The TSN Hockey Bobcast podcast, I was thrilled to have one more medium from which I could benefit from his insight.
I took advantage of my opportunity. On his 18th episode, I asked him about Fleury. My question, and his response, can be heard below at about 29 minutes in. I even made him chuckle a bit.
"I think Marc-Andre Fleury decided that, at this stage of his career, having won Cups, and now he’s got three of them…I think he really likes the idea of being in Vegas, being the number 1 goaltender and being a mentor to young players and the potential face of a new franchise in the National Hockey League. So, I think it’s as simple as that."
McKenzie goes on to comment on Treliving’s belief in Mike Smith. I remain unconvinced.
McKenzie’s assessment is fair enough, I suppose. Shane Doan made a career out being the face of a weak franchise. Still, I cannot help but wonder about the damage the Calgary Flames could do with Fleury in net.
At the end of it all, I submit that Smith vs. Talbot is the only comparison that matters.