Kraken’s Haydn Fleury took the same path in the NHL as her babysitter – future Stars captain Brenden Morrow

Of all the people Haydn Fleury could have emulated as an aspiring hockey player and future Kraken defender, the only one who really caught his attention was his babysitter.

That’s not too surprising, considering the guy who napped her was future Dallas Stars captain Brenden Morrow, who had regularly looked after Fleury at age 3 in their little one. town of Carlyle, Saskatchewan. Carlyle’s population barely exceeds 1,500 residents, and her only two NHL players before Fleury and younger brother, Cale, had been babysitter Morrow and companion Jim McKenzie.

“I don’t mean he changed my diapers – he probably didn’t – but it was at that age, I was pretty young,” said Fleury, 25, whose cousin came out. with Morrow for several years. “I remember him, but later. When I was 6 or 7, he was in the NHL playing for the Stars, and I watched him on TV. I thought it was pretty cool.

Fleury wanted to wear the same number as Morrow, who is 17 years her senior, and follow the same hockey development path as the winger, who retired after 15 NHL seasons in 2015.

He knew Morrow had left their hometown to play for Portland in the Western Hockey League before he was drafted on the 25th.e overall by Dallas in 1997. Fleury, likewise, played for Alberta Red Deer in the WHL, then was also drafted in the first round, seventh overall, by general manager Ron Francis and the Carolina Hurricanes.

Along the way, Fleury, as a teenager, began playing in major international tournaments, most notably for a selected team from Canada West at the 2013 World Under-17 Challenge. Morrow had played in the same tournament 17 years old. earlier and wished Fleury good luck via Twitter.

“Time flies… take advantage of it,” he tweeted.

Fleury, then only 16, was delighted to receive a message from an active NHL player. But he was even more excited in his 2017 Hurricanes rookie season when he played in Dallas on a night the Stars honored retiree Morrow.

There was a pre-game ceremony featuring the two men.

“He said the only way for him to shoot the puck was for me to do it for Carolina instead of our captain,” Fleury said. “So it was pretty cool, for him to see me there. I have to take the face-off. It was a pretty cool moment.”

Fleury has since recorded 179 games in five seasons in the NHL, and he believes it could be a turning point in his career. Somewhat eclipsed in Carolina, he moved to Anaheim on last season’s trade deadline before being selected in the expansion draft by former Carolina boss Francis, now Kraken general manager.

“I think this is a huge opportunity for me,” said Fleury. “I think everyone comes here as some sort of outcast group – this team didn’t want me, but this team (Kraken) did. It’s a clean slate for everyone.

“For me, it kind of started trading last year at Anaheim. It was the best thing that could have happened to me at the time. I had a very good end to the season, and ultimately it led me to come here. ”

The 6-foot-3, 208-pound Fleury now seems a natural partner for Carson Soucy, 6-foot-5, 211 pounds, in the Kraken’s third defensive duo. Although they’ve been paired up in a single preseason game together, they have complementary skills.

“I think we’re both big players,” said Fleury. “Fat guys who know how to skate. This is the way the league is now; you have to be able to skate and take time and space from the other team.

Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said Fleury’s game “has continuously improved throughout camp” to the point where he has become a strong defender who can help the team get out of their own zone quickly.

“These are the first two building blocks,” Hakstol said. “Everyone brings something else to the table with this, but I think Fleury did a really good job focusing on defense with his feet, with his stick, with his body.

“He has a great length and a great size. And then he used his ability to skate and move the puck and his thinking processes to get us out of the zone. And these are the two combinatorial pieces for any defender. “

Perfecting her skating skills was a priority for Fleury throughout the camp.

So he took the chance to play with his younger brother for the first time since the age of 9. There is a two-year age gap between them, and they had played together at the time only because Haydn’s side didn’t have enough players for a tournament.

That was until last week, when defensemen adjusted for the Kraken against the Flames in Calgary, Alta., Where much of their family has since moved.

“We probably had 20 family members at the game so it was really special,” he said. “All of our cousins ​​were on the JumboTron in Kraken jerseys, so it was a really special moment. I know my mom was watching from the crowd, and she was really proud. And my dad was looking at home and wishing he could. be there.

His brother was reassigned last weekend to the Kraken branch in the AHL in Charlotte, North Carolina. Fleury said the demotion was tough for both of them, but told Cale anything could happen in the future and that you need to ‘sharpen your tools and go to work’ so they can reclaim their place among the four. NHL players from their small town.

“A city this size, having four NHL players coming out of it is pretty cool,” he said. “Especially when one is your brother and the other your babysitter.”

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