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Marc-Andre Fleury: Vegas 'will be competitive for many years'

From ESPN - September 12, 2017

New team, new city, same old Marc-Andre Fleury.

After 13 seasons, 375 wins and three Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins, the 32-year-old goaltender waived his no-movement clause, allowing the Penguins to move on to the younger and more affordable Matt Murray. Now Fleury is the face of the nascent Vegas Golden Knights, as their marquee addition from the expansion draft.

The shift from a perennial contender to a team with modest expectations marks a significant change for Fleury. When your owner and general manager openly admit that they do not expect to make the playoffs until their third season, how does that make the starting goaltender feel? Fleury opens up about expectations and how he has changed since his 2003 debut (more wine consumption and less media); and of course, he sprinkles in a few jokes along the way.

ESPN.com: What is your definition of a good hockey city?

Fleury: The support from the fans. It's so fun when you play in a building where it's pretty packed every game and people get excited about goals, saves, blocked shots. Just playing for a [team in a] city where people love the game, it's nice.

ESPN.com: Let's say I am a really good free-agent hockey player. Give me your pitch about why I should come to Las Vegas.

Fleury: Can I bribe you with stuff? I am kidding, kidding. It's easy, though. The organization -- from the top to bottom, from the owner to the coach to GM -- everyone is quality people. The people they hired around the team -- the medical staff, the training staff, the [PR] staff ... they all come to make the team as one. The new building and the new practice arena also are top of the line. We have a good bunch of players right now and a lot of draft picks coming in from this year, next year and the year after. I think the team will be very competitive for many years.

ESPN.com: What's the biggest thing you have learned about Las Vegas?

Fleury: How hot it is. No, I think [it's] the welcome that we get from fans everywhere. You tell them you are going to play hockey for the Golden Knights and everyone is so excited about having a team to cheer for. Once they announced the team, you did not know what to expect from a team so far south, but everybody that I have met or crossed paths with is very excited about it.

ESPN.com: Golden Knights owner Bill Foley has publicly stated that his goal is to make the playoffs in three years. What do you think when you hear that?

Fleury: Well, I have two years left in my deal. So hopefully, we can do it before that. I think it's good but, for me, I want to do it right away, like this year. Playoff hockey is the most fun to play, right? So I just want to get back in there and have some games in the playoffs again.

ESPN.com: You have been in the league for more than a decade. What habits or hobbies have you picked up since then?

Fleury: Drinking wine ... does that count? For so many years, it seems like anytime you'd go for dinners the night before with your teammates, older guys would always get nice bottles of wine. I did not like it, so I had to force myself [to drink it]. And at some point I liked it.

ESPN.com: Did anyone in particular help you learn about wine?

Fleury: It was a group effort.

ESPN.com: What do you wish you knew as a rookie that you know now?

Fleury: Do not read or listen to the media.

ESPN.com: Did you read a lot as a rookie?

Fleury: Yeah, for sure. I was always wondering. As a kid, I always loved hockey and always read the papers and watched TV about hockey, right? So I just kept doing it. But then it was about me and my team, so sometimes it was harsh. We did not have a very good team. We were not winning a lot.

ESPN.com: When was the last time you faced an obstacle, and how did you overcome it?

Fleury: This season. I was always used to playing a lot of games, and this season I played less. I love to play. I love to be on the ice, so maybe it was not as fun, hockey-wise. But I overcame it by just trying to live in the moment and with the support of my friends and family and teammates.

ESPN.com: You have known Sidney Crosby for a while. What's one thing fans do not know about him?

Fleury: I do not know if there's anything I can say.

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