John Locher/AP Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury blocks a shot by San Jose Sharks’ Mikkel Boedker, left, during the second duration of an NHL preseason hockey video game Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, in Las Vegas.
Monday, Dec. 11, 2017|3:03 p.m.
. After Detroit Red Wings winger Anthony Mantha crashed into Marc-Andre Fleury on Oct. 13, the Vegas Golden Knights goaltender was left on the ice holding his mask in discomfort.
The fitness instructor walked onto the ice to talk with him, however Fleury thought it was just a little injury to his neck that occurred with Mantha’s knee collided with his head. Fleury played the rest of the video game and downplayed it, till he awakened the following early morning.
“The next day, that’s when whatever struck me: The headaches, dizziness and blurred vision,” Fleury said. “Then I knew that was it.”
Fleury hasn’t played since, missing out on the Golden Knights’ last 25 video games with a concussion– the 3rd of his profession.
“On the hit, I felt neck discomfort that was troubling me a lot,” Fleury stated. “I informed the trainer I was great due to the fact that it was just neck pain. Then in the third duration, it started to get a little even worse. My neck was the thing that troubled me the most and I thought I could play with it and finish the game. Looking back, possibly I should have pulled myself.”
Fleury suffered two concussions during the 2015-16 season with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He missed two weeks in December 2015 and headed out once again in April 2016. The Golden Knights placed him on the injured reserve on Oct. 15 and activated him on Sunday.
After an almost two-month absence, Fleury began working out on the ice following group practices with goalie coach Dave Prior. He has because signed up with complete practices and is expected to start for the Golden Knights on Tuesday versus the Carolina Hurricanes.
“When we got him, he was the face of our franchise, and he’s a huge part of our club,” coach Gerard Gallant stated. “It appears like he’s going to play tomorrow, and we are looking forward to it.”
It’s been a long road back for Fleury, who has actually visited multiple brain professionals.
“I needed to get back fit,” Fleury said. “That was No. 1. I have actually been exercising in the fitness center, however it’s not the same. It’s a quick game and I just have to get utilized to the timing. Guys have great shots, so you’ve got to get used to it.”
Luckily for Fleury and the Golden Knights, Malcolm Subban, Oscar Dansk and Maxime Lagace played well enough throughout his lack that there was no rush for Felury to get back. All three goalies had at least a. 500 win portion during the 25-game stretch, including Subban, who was 7-2-0.
“It’s excellent for our company and terrific for those kids since it provides self-confidence,” Gallant stated. “We learned a lot about goalies that we didn’t learn about. We didn’t know a lot about Lagace, Dansk or Subban. When the injuries struck, these guys got a possibility to play and played extremely well.”
Fleury said he lifted weights, ran and rode a bike to remain in shape during his rehabilitation, but the extra practices to knock the rust off will be type in his return.
“We do a great deal of practices with a great deal of reps, however it’s never ever like a game with the traffic of men going to the internet and the speed of whatever occurring,” Fleury stated. “Finding pucks through legs and stuff like that is tough to (duplicate) in practice so the more you play, the more comfortable you get.”
Fleury looked great in practice today and appeared all set for game action.
“He’s moving real fast and looks positive out there,” Gallant stated. “It’s been a long time, undoubtedly, but he’s been on the ice for about a week and a half now, and the good thing is, we gave him great deals of time to get all set and get sharp.”
Whether it was playfully tumbling onto the ice to poke the puck off a gamer’s stick or jokingly aiming to trip his colleagues as they skated by his goal, Fleury plainly appeared to be feeling like himself.
“I feel good finally,” Fleury stated. “It’s been a long time that I have actually been away now. It’s enjoyable to feel regular and be around the group and have some enjoyable.”
While his very first video game back Tuesday night against Carolina is the focus, it’s tough to not expect Thursday, when Fleury’s previous team and two-time defending Stanley Cup Champ Pittsburgh Penguins come to T-Mobile Arena.
“I understand it’s coming; I can’t conceal it,” Fleury said, smiling. “But there is still a video game to be played and a couple of practices before that. To have an opportunity to face them for the first time will be nice. I’m looking forward to it.”