NHL Notebook: Wild goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury wears Indigenous-themed mask despite NHL policy, Avalanche’s Samuel Girard enters NHL player assistance program, and more

Photo credit:Nick Wosika/USA Today Sports
Aleena Aksenchuk
5 months ago
Minnesota Wild goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has gone against NHL policy after wearing a custom mask for the team’s Native American heritage night.
On Friday night, the goaltender took the ice against the Colorado Avalanche, flashing the custom mask designed by Native American artist Cole Redhorse Taylor during the team warmup at the Xcel Energy Centre. In doing so, he ignored the league’s threats to fine Fleury and the Wild if he decided against the league’s ban on wearing one-off equipment to commemorate social causes.
The decision on Fleury’s behalf was to wear the custom piece to honour his wife’s indigenous ancestry. The mask includes Fleury’s children’s names, along with a quote from his father.
The 38-year-old’s agent, Allan Walsh, addressed the issue on Twitter and acknowledged the NHL’s financial threats before the game on Friday.
“Marc-Andre Fleury indicated he was planning to wear the mask anyway and pay the fine. The NHL then threatened the Wild organization with an additional significant fine.”
During the offseason, the NHL announced it would prohibit players from wearing specialty jerseys or equipment for theme nights, including during warmup. The new rule indicated that Pride Tape on player’s sticks would be banned. The decision was reserved after Arizona Coyotes defenceman Travis Dermott subtly taped the top of his stick in the rainbow-coloured tape against the Anaheim Ducks.
Fleury has now joined Dermott in chipping away at the new regulations after wearing the mask on Friday night. ESPN‘s Greg Wyshynski tweeted shortly before puck drop that no punishment is excepted from the NHL to Fleury or the Wild organization.
“The sense I get is that if Marc-Andre Fleury wears his Native American Heritage Night mask in warmups — and I’ve heard it’s a possibility — the expectation is that there would be no punishment to Fleury or the Wild,” Wyshynski tweeted. “But he would be in violation of the NHL’s new policy.”
After warmups, Fleury removed the mask, autographed the signature piece, and put it up for auction, with proceeds going to the Minnesota Wild Foundation and the American Indian Family Center. The top bid currently sits at $15,500, with bidding to close on November 30th.
Fleury has appeared in nine games with the Wild with a record of 3-4-2 and a .875 save percentage. The Wild currently sit seventh in the Central Division with a 5-8-4 record and 14 points in 17 games.

Avalanche’s Samuel Girard enters NHL player assistance program

The Colorado Avalanche announced that defenceman Samuel Girard will enter the NHL player assistance program and will be stepping away from the team indefinitely.
“I have made a proactive decision to take care of my mental health and will be entering treatment for severe anxiety and depression that has gone untreated for too long and led to alcohol abuse,” Girard said in a statement through his agency, CAA Hockey.
“Taking care of your mental health is of the utmost importance, and I encourage everyone to speak up and seek help should you feel like you need it. I want to express my gratitude to my wife, family, friends, the club, my teammates, and the fans for their patience, understanding and continued support.”
Although he may not be on the ice, Girard will continue to be paid, as per the rules of the joint program, and will return to the team “when cleared for on-ice competition by the program administrators,” as stated by the NHL and the NHL Players Associate release.
The 25-year-old has been out of action since contributing an assist to the Avalanche’s 6-3 victory over the Dallas Stars on November 18th.
Girard has played a critical role as part of the top-four defenceman for the Avalanche since joining the team in 2017 from the Nashville Predators after a three-team trade that sent Matt Duchene to the Ottawa Senators.
Since joining the organization, he registered four goals and 34 points in 70 games in 2019-20 and came close in 2020-21 in just 48 games, scoring five goals and 32 points. In 2021-22, he and the Avalanche won the Stanley Cup, drafting the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games. Last year’s campaign saw the blueliner record the best production of his career, scoring six goals and 37 points.
His current cap hit of $5-million will continue against the team’s salary cap unless he is placed on the long-term injured reserve. The Avalanche can put him on the list if they believe he will miss ten games in 24 days.

Lightning become first team to score 8+ goals on 15 or fewer shots

The Tampa Bay Lightning made history on Friday night against the Carolina Hurricanes by becoming the first team to score eight goals on 14 shots.
The Lightning are the first team in NHL history to score at least eight goals on 14 or fewer shots since shot tracking had been introduced in 1955-56. The 8-2 victory over the Hurricanes boasted Tampa’s 57.1 shooting percentage, rumoured to be a single-game NHL record.
Ironically, the Hurricanes opened the scoring thanks to a goal from Stefan Noesen late in the first period. The Lightning answered with three goals from Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, and Brayden Point at the beginning of the second period. Carolina’s Michael Bunting would score one more before moving into the third period to make the score 3-2 for the Lightning.
When the puck dropped for the third period, the Lightning became relentless against Carolina netminder Antti Raanta with goals from Brandon Hagel, Luke Glendening, Kucherov, and two from Point.
The astounding performance came with the season debut of Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, who missed the first 20 games of the season after recovering from back surgery in September. The 29-year-old saved 22 of 24 shots, contributing to a .917 save percentage.
Tampa Bay sits third in the Atlantic division with a record of 10-6-5 through 21 games.

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