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Ex-Pens GM Rutherford tried reacquiring Fleury during offseason

Jeff Bottari / National Hockey League / Getty

Former Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford admitted he tried to trade for franchise icon Marc-Andre Fleury this past offseason.

Fleury reportedly became available for trade after the Vegas Golden Knights re-signed fellow goaltender Robin Lehner to a five-year, $25-million contract.

"That’s one of the reasons we decided to buy out Jack Johnson," Rutherford told The Athletic's Josh Yohe. "I was trying to clear money for Marc."

Rutherford admitted he even broke one of the unwritten rules of NHL GMs and contacted the Golden Knights about his availability while Vegas was still in the playoffs.

"I did what I never do and will never do again if I work again," Rutherford said. "I called a general manager (Kelly McCrimmon) during their playoff series (against Dallas). I said, 'If you’re moving Marc, you make sure you call me. I want him.'"

Rutherford said talks were never deeply involved due to the cap gymnastics of such a deal (Fleury's AAV is $7 million, and both Pittsburgh and Vegas are up against the cap). That didn't stop the 72-year-old from making a big push for the netminder, though.

"I was serious. Very serious," he said. "Very willing to give a lot to get him, too. What I think is a lot and what the other team thinks is a lot may be two different things. I wasn’t looking at it as them giving him away. I was certainly willing to pay the price to get him back. I tried."

Fleury, 36, is aging like fine wine, sporting a .936 save percentage and 1.77 goals-against average in 20 contests this season.

The Penguins ended up trading Matt Murray to the Ottawa Senators and re-signing Tristan Jarry to a three-year, $10.5-million contract.

Rutherford, who resigned from his post in January, made plenty of big moves during his time in Pittsburgh, but he said sending Fleury to Vegas "was the hardest thing I ever had to do as a manager."

Fleury waived his no-movement clause prior to the 2017 expansion draft, where he was taken by Vegas. The Golden Knights also received a second-round pick from the Pens for taking the goaltender.

Fleury won three Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh and is the franchise's all-time leader in wins.

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