Goalie will get NHL salary while with Team Canada

Updated: December 9, 2003, 2:46 AM ET
Associated Press

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Marc-Andre Fleury is heading to the World Junior Championship with a positive attitude.

The Pittsburgh Penguins goalie, chosen No. 1 overall in this year's draft, has been lent to Canada's junior team -- a move that could cost him quite a bit of bonus money.

"I'm not too worried about the business side," Fleury said. "I just want to play and enjoy my time here because it's like a dream."

Fleury, 19, backstopped Canada to a silver medal in last year's tournament with a .957 save percentage and was chosen as the top goalie.

"Last year, I had a great time so I'm just looking forward to it again and hopefully we'll go to the end and win gold," Fleury said Monday after practicing with the Penguins.

Fleury, expected to make his 15th NHL start Tuesday against the Vancouver Canucks, can become eligible for lucrative bonus money once he starts for the 25th time. He could earn an additional $4 million on top of his $1.24 million base salary.

Fleury will receive $400,000 if he reaches any of the following: 20 victories; a 3.25 goals-against average; an .890 save percentage; 1,800 minutes played; four shutouts over the term of the contract; and a top-three finish in rookie of the year balloting.

If Fleury achieves two of those incentives this season, he would get a $4 million bonus. He would need to reach three in his second year and four in the third to get the $4 million bonus in those seasons.

Penguins general manager Craig Patrick said Sunday that money wasn't a factor in the decision to send Fleury away. He will receive his NHL salary during his time with the Canadian team.

Fleury is 4-9-2 with a 3.15 goals-against average, .911 save percentage and one shutout in 877 minutes, prompting speculation the cash-strapped Penguins might send him back to juniors.

He will head to Canada's training camp in Ontario on Thursday and will play in the tournament, which runs Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Helsinki, Finland.

Fleury could be away from the Penguins for a month.


Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press

ALSO SEE