Dunlap: The Fleury/Murray Debate Is No Debate At All

Pens GM made only logical choice

Colin Dunlap
May 22, 2018 - 1:20 pm

James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

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Marc-Andre Fleury led his team to the Stanley Cup Final. His new team, the Vegas Golden Knights. You know this already. It is the best story in sports right now --- by at least a mile, probably a lot more. Plenty here in Pittsburgh are talking about it. Heck, I walked into Dick's Sporting Goods in McCandless the other day and --- smack dab in the front of the store --- they had Fleury shirts for sale. And not just a couple. They had racks on racks of Flower shirts. 

It's Fleurymania, for sure. As it should be. Good for him; great hockey player and a better man. 

But let's end any and all shenanigans. Please, if there are any holdovers left, grab them by the shoulders, shake them a bit and look them square in the eye and let them know that Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford didn't make any sort of mistake. Oh no, Jimmy Rutherford didn't pick the wrong guy when he essentially opted to keep Matt Murray over Marc-Andre Fleury as the expansion draft came knocking. Rutherford made the logical move. He made the right move. For goodness sake, he made the only move he could have or should have made. 

So let's end this debate, wish Fleury well --- even cheer for him in games not against the Penguins like I do, if you wish --- and understand that Matt Murray was always going to be the goaltender of the future. 

There. Got it? Good. I mean, can you please grasp this? It would make Greater Pittsburgh a greater place if we all understood this. 

Murray was the guy who had won back-to-back Stanley Cups at just 23 years old, was a decade younger and a few million dollars cheaper than Fleury when the expansion draft came around. I challenge you to find me any general manager in the NHL --- or any sane hockey observer, really --- who thinks that a keep-Fleury-instead-of-Murray proposition was the right move. You see, it is fashionable right now to make the argument that Fleury could have been a pivotal piece on this season's Penguins team and, with him, they might still be playing. I have even heard the ill-conceived notion that the Penguins need to be a "win now" organization and live in a moment where the understanding has to be built solely upon an idea that the best possible talent needs to be assembled for the Crosby/Malkin era and the future be damned. Whatever.

It was a tough decision for Jim Rutherford and when it came time to make it, I just don't see how in the world logic could have told him Fleury was a better choice than Murray. 

But we like three things here in Pittsburgh more than just about any place else in the world: Complaining, nostalgia and fireworks. While this situation doesn't have anything supplied by the Zambelli Family, it does have those other two things Pittsburghers positively love --- nostalgia and complaining. 

It's quite simple to see that Fleury's good guy status weighs into this whole situation a great deal. He was a beloved member of the community and organization and rightly so. He should be a guy fans have an affinity for. That said, the small number of people who think Rutherford should have picked Fleury to stay in Pittsburgh over Murray are letting nostalgia cloud their judgment. So you know what they do? Of course, they complain. 

So, again, end the nonsense. Be done with any and all conversations on this matter. I beg you. Please. Pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty please. Be done with it. Matt Murray was the right guy over Marc-Andre Fleury --- and it doesn't matter what kind of success Fleury is having right now or that the Penguins have been playing golf for a couple weeks. There is no logical argument that can be made that points to Fleury being the guy who should have been kept. So, get on with it. Get on with your lives.