After two campaigns that have seen the Pittsburgh Penguins earn consecutive championships on the backs of star netminders Matt Murray and Marc-Andre Fleury, the club is about to begin a new era in the crease.
Murray will take over as Pittsburgh’s unchallenged starter in 2017-18, with longtime No.1 Fleury now wearing Vegas Golden Knights colours. While the Penguins faithful have little reason to doubt their 23-year-old goaltending phenom, Murray said he’s feeling the weight of the change that has occurred in Pittsburgh’s crease.
“Marc had been such a fixture in Pittsburgh,” Murray told Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Thursday. “To an extent, I feel like I was responsible for him leaving that. I know he probably would rather stay in Pittsburgh his entire career, for sure. I definitely feel bad in that regard.”
Fleury had an exceptional run wearing black and gold, amassing three Stanley Cups – the first of which saw him lead the charge in net – and seven campaigns in which he topped 35 wins. The Sorel, Que., native also paced the league with a career-best 10 shutouts during a standout 2014-15 season.
“At the end of the day, I’m not going to fill Marc-Andre Fleury’s shoes,” Murray told Mackey. “Nobody’s going to fill Marc-Andre Fleury’s shoes. It’s about being myself, doing the best that I can each and every day.
“I want to have a career like ‘Flower’ did — the guy who has been so successful for so long.”
Murray thrived during the first two playoff runs of his career, posting a stellar save percentage of .937 during his club’s most recent post-season stretch after a strong mark of .923 one year prior.
Despite those elite numbers, and the fact that he already has two Stanley Cups in his trophy case, the young goaltender said he feels like he still hasn’t quite made it.
“I feel like I haven’t really done anything yet,” Murray said. “A year and a half, even though we’ve won both times? I don’t think it really says a whole lot in the long run. I think I have a long way to go, and I feel like I’m just kind of getting started.”