Goalies take lockout hit, says Penguins' Fleury
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That's because he took on a new roomie -- known in some quarters as a wife -- over the summer.
But if the NHL lockout ends and part of the 2012-13 season is salvaged, Fleury will find himself working alongside Tomas Vokoun, who received a two-year contract after his rights were acquired from Washington this spring and will replace Brent Johnson as the Penguins' No. 2 goalie.
Fleury, who made his first appearance at the Penguins' informal workouts Tuesday at Southpointe, said he does not know Vokoun well and that he "talked to him once or twice this summer."
Which is about how many times he chatted with Johnson every 15 minutes or so during their days together.
There's no reason to believe that Fleury and Vokoun won't get along and won't be able to form an effective partnership, but it also should not be assumed that they will bond the way Fleury and Johnson did.
"With [Johnson], it was easy, because I could always talk [to him]," Fleury said. "Like, between periods, walk in and go see him and ask him about 'this goal,' and whether I should do something different.
"He'd be honest with me. We'd talk, and try to help each other out."
Fleury -- perhaps, in part, because he's such a pleasant sort -- has meshed nicely with pretty much everyone with whom he has shared the position since he broke into the NHL just months after the Penguins invested the No. 1 choice in the 2003 NHL draft in him.
"I've been pretty lucky," he said. "There has always been an awesome goalie here, so it's been easy for me. I'm sure it'll be all right with Tomas, too."
Fleury spent the past few weeks playing in charity games former teammate Max Talbot organized around the province of Quebec, but acknowledged those didn't necessarily prepare him for an NHL season.
"There was no hitting, pretty much no slap shots," he said. "It was more of an all-star type of game. [Games with scores such as] 10-9 and stuff like that, so it was kind of tough to play. There were a lot of two-on-zero breakaways, backdoor [plays], so it was kind of tough."
If the NHL and its players association are able to settle on a collective bargaining agreement in time to save a portion of the 2012-13 season, there presumably will be an abbreviated training camp. It seems unlikely that the shortened preseason would include any exhibition games, which Fleury suggested will make it tougher for him to have his game honed when he is forced to face other teams for real.
"You know those exhibition games?" he said. "I think they're good. You can see more game[-type] action. Guys crashing the net ... you don't see that much in practice, guys in front of you, trying to battle around."
If the lockout isn't resolved fairly soon, Fleury expects to investigate the possibility of playing in Europe, where dozens of NHLers have found temporary employment the past month or so.
"Hopefully, everything works well [with the CBA negotiations] this week, and they have a good talk and everything settles down pretty quick," he said. "But if it's going to last longer, I might throw my name out there to see what's available."
Fleury hopes he and Vokoun can develop the kind of relationship he had with Johnson and seems to believe that's a realistic objective.
He also knows that at least one thing matters more than how close he gets to be with his goaltending partner.
"The bottom line: We need to win," Fleury said. "And it doesn't matter how we do it."
NOTE -- Defenseman Ben Lovejoy rejoined the Southpointe workouts after spending a few days in Enfield, N.H., where what he calls "a huge pine tree" struck his house because of winds and rain spawned by superstorm Sandy. Lovejoy said the tree "grazed" the structure. "I'm unlucky that it fell on my house," Lovejoy said. "But lucky that ... it could have been so much -- so much -- worse."
First Published November 7, 2012 12:16 am