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Penguins send Fleury back to junior
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Old 30 Jan 2004, 09:25 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Penguins send Fleury back to junior

Penguins sending Fleury back to junior


TSN.ca Staff with files


1/29/2004

Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury is going back to his old junior club.



The Pittsburgh Penguins informed Fleury today of their decision to return him to the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Fleury will be backing up goaltender Jean-Sebastien Aubin against the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight and will likely be sent down Friday.



"Marc's disappointed; it's his dream to play in the NHL,'' Penguisn coach Ed Olczyk said on his pre-game radio show. "He has proven he can play here and deserves to play here.

"It's a tough decision, but it's the right decision. He has a chance to go win a Memorial Cup. The more he plays and the more he learns, the better he's going to be."



Screaming Eagles head coach Pascal Vincent said Fleury would not play for Cape Breton on Saturday against Drummondville, but would instead go home to Sorel for the weekend before joining the team the next week.



``We're going to take it slowly,'' said Vincent, who spoke to Fleury on Thursday.



``Of course he's disappointed,'' said Vincent. ``He was living his dream. He was 19 years old and playing in the NHL with the big boys.''



The Eagles are the top-ranked team in the Canadian Hockey League this week.



Pittsburgh, mired in last place in the National Hockey League standings, went eight days this month with a three-goalie system with Aubin, Fleury and Sebastien Caron each seeing game action.



Caron, who signed a four-year, $3.2 million US contract prior to the season, was sent later down to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League.



Fleury, who led Canada to two straight silver medals at the World Junior Hockey Championship, was taken first overall by Pittsburgh in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. In 21 games this season, he has a 4-14-2 record and a 3.64 goals-against average.



The 19-year-old was set to collect $3 million US in bonuses if he reached certain incentives spelled out in his NHL contract.



``Certainly finances are in the back of our minds all the time,'' Penguins general manager Craig Patrick told The Associated Press. ``We can't afford to lose a lot of money, but we just felt for a 19-year-old kid, it's best for him to get back into his own element with his peers and try to win some championships which we think is important for development.''



The Penguins' 6-2 loss Tuesday night to Tampa was Fleury's 21st game, though two don't count for contract purposes because he played fewer than 20 minutes in each. However, 12 losses in his last 13 decisions for the NHL's worst team have dropped him below the benchmarks needed to obtain his bonuses. As long as he stayed below them, the Penguins could play him for as long as they wanted.



Loaned by the Penguins to Canada's national junior team partly to get his confidence back, Fleury saw his clearing pass deflect off a teammate and into his own net for the deciding goal in a 4-3 championship game loss to the United States. The U.S. juniors rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the third period.



Fleury had a similar third-period letdown in his first game back for the Penguins, giving up four goals in just over five minutes in a 4-2 loss to Minnesota on Jan. 16.



He was pulled after allowing six goals in two periods of a 6-5 loss to Ottawa on Jan. 22, but had since bounced back to play his two best games since he was 2-2-2 with a 1.96 goals against average and a .943 save percentage in October.



Then, it seemed he would easily reach two of the six standards needed to earn his $3 million: a 3.25 goals-against average, .890 save percentage, 20 victories, four shutouts, 1,800 minutes played and a top-five finish in the Calder Trophy voting.



But, with the Penguins down to 31 games remaining, he is below nearly all of those with a 3.64 GAA, .896 save percentage, 4-14-2 record, one shutout and 1,154 minutes played. The Calder Trophy voting has yet to take place.
----------------------------

I guess the Pens can't afford to keep him around


But this move won't help them either way. There still going to finish dead last no matter who's in goal.
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Old 30 Jan 2004, 02:10 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Smart move by the Pens. If you're going to come last you might as well save a couple bucks in the process.
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