A two-time All-Star, Fleury, 32, instantly becomes the centerpiece of Las Vegas’s first major professional sports franchise. He will be among the marquee attractions in a city that is no stranger to bright lights and brash presentation. But Fleury, a Quebec native, acknowledged that it was not a role to which he is accustomed. Even as a high-profile figure with the Penguins, he was happy to defer much of the attention to superstar teammates like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
He will not have that luxury with the Golden Knights.
“A little weird,” Fleury said. “I always had Sid to step behind. Obviously a little different. I think I’m up for the challenge.”
He added: “I’m not looking for this. I don’t want to talk about this today. I just want to contribute, do my job, stop the puck and win some games. That’s what’s important.”
Among the 30 players the Golden Knights selected in the expansion draft on Wednesday were some former teammates of Fleury’s, including forwards James Neal, David Perron and Chris Thorburn and defenseman Deryk Engelland.
Engelland, who has played minor league hockey in Las Vegas and spent five seasons with the Penguins, was particularly excited to be joining the Golden Knights alongside Fleury.
“He’s always happy, there’s never a bad day for that guy,” Engelland said. “He brings a lot of energy. He brings fun to the game, to be at the rink every day and to be around the guys. He’s going to be a great leader.”
It is a role Fleury seemed destined for when the Pittsburgh Penguins, in the midst of a major rebuild, first threw him in their crease as a wide-eyed 18-year-old. Not yet ready for the moment, Fleury was overwhelmed most nights.
That humbling experience was made more palatable by the opportunity to play alongside the Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux, a sporting icon in the city who is now an owner of the Penguins. Fleury will not be tasked with saving a…