Marc-Andre Fleury has plenty of detractors and justly so. Given his mediocre to downright horrible performances in the playoffs the last few seasons, Fleury has supplied plenty of reason for criticism.
Don't count Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur among those voices. Arguably the greatest goaltender in NHL history, Brodeur has experienced just about everything a goaltender can go through.
A teammate of Fleury (right) on the 2010 Canadian Olympic team, Brodeur shared his thoughts today about Fleury's struggles as well as finally being teammates with long-time adversary Jaromir Jagr:
Do you think Fleury can regain the form that made him a Stanley Cup-winning goaltender?
"I think so. I like the way he plays. I like his style of play and everything. I think it’s always a little tough when you don’t perform as well as people think you can. Your expectations … sometimes it snowballs on you a little bit. It’s unfortunate. I felt for him when it happened. He’s a good friend of mine. But it’s part of being a goalie. Consistency is a major thing. You can be good one year but you need to be good every year. For him, I think it’s that a little bit."
"He’s shown that he’s able to play well. You don’t make two trips to the Stanley Cup finals because you should get pulled in a playoff series. … It’s an unfortunate situation for him. He’ll get back on track."
He has a new goaltending coach this season in Mike Bales. You've had a handful of coaches throughout your career. Do you still value instruction from a goaltending coach?
"For me, it’s not much technique. It’s more of the mental game – the approach to the game – that I rely on my goalie coach. I don’t think anybody could teach the way I play anyway. It’s a little late to change too. But I think at this stage, a new voice is good. Time will tell.
Some have felt defensive issues for the Penguins have led to Fleury's postseason struggles.
I haven’t really watched much. You can tell that how he explodes out of control sometimes. That means that he doesn’t know what’s going on really. That means just moving as quick as possible and getting himself out of position. When he had teams that were maybe a little more tight, you don’t have to make these types of saves so it doesn’t get into you. I’ve played on teams that it got chaotic. At one point, you’re losing yourself in there and it just kind of snowballs and you can’t play your game. Maybe that’s what happened to him.
What is it like having Jagr on your team after roughly two decades as an opponent?
"Finally. It took a while though. Definitely happy that he’s on our side. I think he’s a great hockey player still. I think he’s going to bring a lot for our team, not just on the ice but off the ice. The way he works at his game and the work at being ready is going to be a great example for our young guys. When you see a guy a superstar coming, it can only benefit our hockey team having him around."
Over the past two years, the Devils have departed with stars Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk. How important was it to bringing a superstar like Jagr for the organization?
"These guys that we lost, they were on our team for a while. [Jagr] is 41 coming in his first year, I don’t know how long he’s going to stay. Definitely it’s important for our fan base to really count on a big guy like that, a guy that’s exciting to watch."
(Photos: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)