Alex Ovechkin will not be the only player taking a pass on NHL All-Star festivities this season. Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury will also skip the upcoming event, the team announced. Vegas states that while the selection is an honor, both the team and the player felt that this was the correct decision. As a result, Fleury will also be suspended for one game per league rules, to be served on either side of All-Star weekend.
While Fleury has attended four previous All-Star games, including in each of the past two years as a representative of the Golden Knights, this decision does not come as any great surprise. The 35-year-old keeper is one of the biggest linchpin players in the league and Vegas cannot afford to see him injured in an exhibition event. Not only that, the aging netminder has missed time already this season and simply needs the rest. This has not been confirmed as the reason for Fleury’s decision to skip, but is the most logical explanation. While his absence at the All-Star Game and Skills Competition will be a shame, especially as such a well-liked player, this is a smart decision by the player and team.
The NHL has already announced that Fleury’s replacement for the Pacific Division team will be Vancouver Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom. The impending free agent can now add All-Star to a resume that already boasts a career-high .917 save percentage thus far this season, as well as 14 wins for the upstart Canucks. He will join young forward Elias Pettersson as Vancouver’s representatives for the All-Star festivities from January 24-26.
The one wrinkle yet to be addressed – if it is at all – is that Fleury was Vegas’ lone All-Star selection this season. As a goalie, it was not so simple to swap him out for a teammate, currently leaving the Knights without a representative. Veteran forward Max Pacioretty is a candidate to join the Pacific squad as a Last Men In fan vote option, but he has not been guaranteed a spot (yet).