Fleury on Orpik and Niskanen: They were big part of our team

Fleury on Orpik and Niskanen: They were big part of our team
August 14, 2014, 10:30 am
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(USA TODAY Sports)

Marc-Andre Fleury is not convinced that the hiring of a new general manager and a new head coach are enough to bring the Pittsburgh Penguins back to the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Penguins goalie spoke to TSN Wednesday from a hockey clinic in Canada, where he and Kings defenseman Drew Doughty served as guest instructors.

"It will be different," Fleury said in a video that can be seen here. "I don't know if that's what will get us the cup, but I'm sure it will be good to have some changes and to have some new ideas and new systems and hopefully that gets us where we want to be."

Gerenal Manager Jim Rutherford replaced outgoing GM Ray Shero in June, with rookie NHL head coach Mike Johnston taking over for Dan Bylsma. Assistant coach Rick Tocchet was also brought in, as former Pens assistant Todd Reirdon joined the Capitals.

The Penguins have won more regular-season games than any other team over the past three seasons, but have not won any games beyond the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs over that same stretch (they reached the Eastern Conference Finals in 2013 but were swept by the Bruins).

"It's tough to pinpoint one thing that went wrong," said Fleury. "It's tough. Every team is trying to win, some years you have injuries, some years you have bad bounces, so you just want to go back and try to find the solution to get us back to the Stanley Cup."

The Penguins led the NHL last season with 529 man games lost due to injury, but still won the Metropolitan Division and finished second in the Eastern Conference. The blueline was particularly banged up, with the Penguins dressing 11 defensemen over the course of the season.

Only four Penguins defensemen played more than 55 games last season and three of them won't be returning. Matt Niskanen (81 GP) and Brooks Orpik (72 GP) both signed in Washington while Deryk Engelland (56 GP) signed with the Calgary Flames.

"They were two big parts of our team, that's for sure," Fleury said of Niskanen and Orpik. "We have lots of young guys coming up and I guess they'll have to fill bigger roles... Some of them played with us last year because we had injuries."

The Penguins are also hoping that Paul Martin (39 GP) and Kris Letang (37 GP) can stay healthy this year, and that free agent pickup Christian Ehrhoff can help fill some of the void left behind from Niskanen and Orpik.

"He's a guy with a lot of experience and a lot of talent so it will be good to have him with us since we lost two big guys back there," Fleury said.

[RELATED: Capitals' Top 25 impact players for 2014-15: No. 7 Evgeny Kuznetsov]