Marc-Andre Fleury is back in net for Wild. How will Cam Talbot handle it?
Bill Guerin talked to reporters on Friday, and his best to downplay reports that Talbot was upset with the current situation.
MONTREAL — Bill Guerin and Marc-Andre Fleury go back more than a decade. They won a Stanley Cup together as teammates with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009, then while Guerin served in the front office, Fleury helped lead the franchise to back-to-back titles in 2016 and 2017.
That relationship helped Guerin convince Fleury to waive his no-movement clause last season, allowing the Wild to acquire the future Hall of Fame goaltender at the trade deadline. That relationships also helped Guerin, the Wild’s general manager, convince Fleury, one of two elite Wild goalies, to re-sign with the Wild on Thursday.
“I said, ‘Please do this for me. Please do us a favor,’ ” Guerin said after the Wild signed the 37-year-old netminder to a 2-year, $7 million contract.
Made aware of Guerin’s joke on Friday, Fleury smiled and responded, “I think he did me a favor by signing me and letting me play for two more years.”
All jokes aside, the Wild are thrilled to have Fleury back next season, and he feels the same way after signing his new deal.
“It was the first time in my career that I was a free agent,” Fleury said. “I’m glad that we came to an agreement pretty quickly.”
What made the Wild the best choice for him?
“I like the team,” Fleury said. “I like the guys in the locker room.”
That’s something Fleury acknowledged as soon as he arrived in the Twin Cities last season at the trade deadline. He felt like a part of the family as soon as he hopped off Wild owner Craig Leipold’s private plane. He wanted to be a part of that moving forward.
Plus, as Fleury noted, the Wild have the potential to be very good team next season
“I think we can still win some games,” he said. “That’s very important to me. I’m looking forward to that.”
As for playing time, Fleury said he expects it to be very similar to last season when he rotated with Cam Talbot in the final half of the regular season.
“Both of us will play,” said Fleury, who exchanged text messages with Talbot after signing his contract. “I think that’s something that will make us good, too, right? Because every night we will have a fresh goalie in net and a guy that can win games. We will help each other and push each other. I think it will be good for the team.”
Asked about his goaltenders on Thursday, Guerin reiterated his belief in both players.
“To have Marc-Andre Fleury and Cam Talbot as a one-two punch, I think we have a top tandem in the league,” Guerin said. “Each and every night we’re going to put a fantastic goalie in net. I think that’s really important.”
Less than 24 hours after signing Fleury, Guerin changed his tune after speaking with Talbot’s agent. Instead of raving about the future, Guerin did his best to downplay reports that Talbot was upset with the current situation.
“I think people see a general manager and an agent talking and they are thinking things are more than what they really are,” Guerin said. “We love Cam. To me, if we start making it a bigger deal than it really is, then it will be a problem.”
In other words, Guerin is operating as if the Wild will have their one-two punch of Fleury and Talbot next season. As far as he’s concerned, there’s no reason for him to think anything else.
“All we’re trying to do is win,” Guerin said. “All we’re trying to do is have strong goaltending, and I think we have that.”
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