Marc-Andre Fleury

Marc-Andre Fleury would like to have this Max Talbot goal back

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Marc-Andre Fleury has had better playoff series in his career. So far his first round series against Philadelphia has been less than memorable, but he may have reached his low point this afternoon.

Pittsburgh was holding a 1-0 lead thanks to a Jordan Staal goal but Maxime Talbot and Sean Couturier were hoping to change that. Boy did they ever as Couturier’s shot was steered away but Talbot so delicately touched the rebound only to see it flutter through Fleury to tie the game at 1-1.

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U-G-L-Y you ain’t got no alibi, that goal is ugly. And soft.

Theo Fleury’s accused sexual abuser faces sentencing this week

Theo Fleury
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Graham James will face a sentencing hearing for allegedly sexually abusing former Calgary Flames star Theo Fleury and another player, but Fleury is adamant that he’s moved on – regardless of what happens with James.

“I have already moved past and I am the victor over sexual abuse,” Fleury said. “And my sole focus and sole purpose in my life — and for the remainder of my life — is to support other victims who have come forth, or are yet to come forth, and have started the journey and the path to healing.”

Fleury’s battle with those abuses was one of the major focuses of his book “Playing with Fire.”

The spirited former NHL player won’t be on hand for the hearings, but some of James’ other victims will be on hand. Retired NHLer Sheldon Kennedy discussed how difficult it will likely be to sit in the same room as James.

“It’s a hard day to face your abuser in whatever type of abuse that is,” Kennedy said. “For so long you think it’s your fault and most of the time these people are in a position of power over you.”

The former hockey coach has already spent three and a half years in prison due to convictions related to similar charges. The Canadian Press reports that some legal experts  believe that James might serve his time in the community since he’s already done time before, which is an idea that incenses Greg Gilhooly.

“In many ways Graham is no different than (serial child killer) Clifford Olson, except that Graham decided to leave his victims alive at the very end after doing what he did with them,” Gilhooly said. “Graham is a serial pedophile, who picked and chose his victim, and then moved on to the next, and the next, and the next. If our court system believes that the sentence he received the first time is adequate, I say the court system is an ass.”

Marc-Andre Fleury gets a rare bit of rest

Marc Andre Fleury, Brent Johnson
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To be honest, it can be a challenge to figure out where, exactly, Marc-Andre Fleury ranks among the NHL’s best goalies.

To his strongest proponents, his consistent winning ways and Stanley Cup ring should be all that’s needed to prove that he’s among the cream of the crop. Others look at his solid-but-not-amazing stats* and occasional puckhandling gaffes and see a $5 million goalie propped up by a great system and timely scoring.

Fleury the workhorse

However you feel about “The Flower,” let there be no doubt that the Penguins lean on him heavily. The National Post’s Michael Traikos points out that Fleury appeared in 23 consecutive games coming into tonight. (Brent Johnson finally got the nod as the Penguins are on the tail-end of back-to-back games with the Toronto Maple Leafs.)

Johnson is the sort of veteran backup that can be an under-the-radar asset – as you may recall, he carried the load when Fleury had a slow start last season – but the Penguins seem fine with the fact that “MAF” is starting to approach the Miikka Kirpusoff neighborhood when it comes to his workload.

“I love to play,” Fleury said. “I love to be in there and play in the game. But it’s a long season if you make it to the playoffs and have a long playoff run.”

More Johnson

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma explained that the schedule was previously conducive to a lot of starts for Fleury but admitted that the stretch run is likely to be quite different. Pittsburgh has five back-to-back sets remaining on its schedule and Bylsma indicates that Johnson should see action in a big chunk (if not all) of them.

The subtle importance of rest and good backups

That’s a good big-picture view because the post-lockout NHL hasn’t been too friendly to teams who use their No. 1 guys like the New Jersey once used Martin Brodeur (and seem primed to do, for questionable reasons).

I must admit that I roll my eyes when people use championship teams as the supposed “template” for future squads, but it is telling that the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks gave their talented No. 2 guys plenty of reps last season despite employing expensive starters. Johnson might not be a sexy goalie-of-the-future like Tuukka Rask or Cory Schneider, but the Penguins would be wise to let him ease some of Fleury’s burden in the same way.

* – Fleury’s .913 save percentage is respectable, but oft-criticized Washington Capitals goalie Tomas Vokoun is ahead of him by a bit with a .915 mark, for example.

Theo Fleury sounds off about Pat Hickey’s accusations

Theo Fleury
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Theo Fleury isn’t about to let a columnist keep his crusade against Graham James down.

Fleury wasn’t about to let Montreal columnist Pat Hickey take potshots at him saying he “enabled” James by not speaking up sooner.

Fleury posted on his website a simple message firing back at Hickey’s ludicrous accusations. Fleury says that Hickey “is more interested in attempting to pit the abused against one another, than in demanding justice.”

Fleury also says that Hickey’s column “makes pedophiles rub their hands together in glee” that the story has been distorted like this. Fleury ultimately wants to see Hickey fired for taking this position.

Hickey’s victim-blaming piece is startling and offensive given what victims of abuse go through both mentally and physically because of their abusers. Pat Hickey’s piece deserves all the blow back it is getting from the public and taking such an irresponsible stand on the James situation in the light of what’s happened at Penn State and potentially at Syracuse University as well is just unbelievable.

What Fleury did to help finally get James put away is worthy of commendation, not ridicule or shame.

Columnist: Fleury was an “enabler” of sexual abuser

Theoren Fleury
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The Montreal Gazette’s Pat Hickey might’ve just bought himself a whole bunch of grief.

In a column titled “Theo Fleury hypocritical for blasting justice system’s handling of Graham James case,” Hickey takes dead aim at Fleury for failing to speak up sooner about being sexually abused by James.

Specifically, Hickey accuses Fleury of staying silent while both Fleury and James were co-owners of the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen.

Here was someone who had suffered abuse at the hands of Graham James. Here was someone who knew that James had abused other players. Here was someone who was exposing other children to the same sexual predator.

Fleury has been through enough counselling to know there’s a word for someone who acts in this fashion – enabler.

Hickey’s putting himself out there with this opinion. Blaming the victim in a sexual abuse case can be a perilous path for a columnist to take. Hope he’s prepared for the blowback.