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Bienvenue, Monsieur Fleury! Another Quebecois, 18-year-old Marc-Andre Fleury, is set to be the Penguins' savior

Oct. 13, 2003
Oct. 13, 2003

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Oct. 13, 2003

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Bienvenue, Monsieur Fleury! Another Quebecois, 18-year-old Marc-Andre Fleury, is set to be the Penguins' savior

Marc-Andre Fleury is the dauphin, next in the regal line of Quebec
goaltenders. If the Pittsburgh Penguins are correct in their
assessment of his potential--they traded up in June to make the
18-year-old Fleury the No. 1 pick in the draft--he will be the
foundation of their post-Mario Lemieux teams. Fleury's game is a
blend of solid technique and quick lateral movement, leavened
with poise and a smidgen of attitude. As a 15-year-old rookie
with Cape Breton of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
(QMJHL), Fleury became furious in one game when he was yanked
after giving up two goals. When he got to the bench he was told
to keep the team's chart of shots allowed, but instead he turned
the paper over and composed a note to his coach--"I am not a
statistician. I am a goalie"--and signed his name.

This is an article from the Oct. 13, 2003 issue Original Layout

"He's a gamer," Phoenix Coyotes goalie coach Benoit Allaire says
of the 6'1", 172-pound Fleury, only the second netminder taken
first in the modern draft, following Rick DiPietro's selection in
2000 by the New York Islanders. "You could see in the World
Junior Championships that he loves pressure."

Fleury made his reputation at that tournament last winter, at the
start not as a butterfly or a stand-up goalie but as a sit-down
netminder. That's the position the virus-stricken Fleury was in
for the 24 hours before his country needed him. After David
LeNeveu allowed a pair of soft goals 74 seconds apart in the
second period of a round-robin match against Finland, Canada
coach Marc Habscheid lifted him for the wan, weak Fleury. In his
first appearance Fleury stopped all 13 shots he faced as Canada
won 5-3. Fleury played every minute in the last two games that
followed. Not even a 3-2 loss to Russia in the final could taint
the performance by Fleury, who had a 1.57 goals-against average
and was named the tournament's outstanding goalie.

Fleury was raised in Sorel (pop. 21,800), about an hour north of
Montreal, in a house that was built by his father, Andre, a
carpenter. Marc-Andre and his friends played in the cornfield
that abuts his family's property. Seemingly half his relatives
live on the next street, and as he walked by the houses with a
visitor over the summer, Fleury pointed them out, "Aunt, aunt,
cousin...."

In his first three years of organized hockey, beginning at age
seven, Fleury played in rented equipment. He did not own new pads
until he was 13 or a new goalie glove until he was 14, but his
parents were able to send him to Francois Allaire's goalie school
in the summers of 1996 and '97. Fleury learned the butterfly
technique but still mixes in stand-up, cobbling together a style
that most closely resembles the New Jersey Devils' Martin
Brodeur.

Fleury was impressive in training camp and will get a shot at
being the Penguins' No. 1 goalie. He could be the dauphin that
saves Pittsburgh. --M.F.

COLOR PHOTO: DAVID BERGMAN FIRST CHOICE Pittsburgh traded up and made Fleury, a WorldJuniors star, the No. 1 pick in the June draft.