One more game triggers Fleury's contract

CANONSBURG, Pa. -- Pittsburgh Penguins coach Eddie Olczyk
would not say whether rookie Marc-Andre Fleury will play in his
11th game of the season or be sent back to juniors.

There is plenty riding on the decision.

By playing Wednesday against the New York Rangers, the
18-year-old goaltender would activate the first full year of his
incentive-laden, three-year, $3.72 million contract.

The Penguins can save a season on the deal by sending the first
overall pick in this year's draft back to Cape Breton of the Quebec
Major Junior Hockey League after 10 games.

"I'm not going to make a decision until tomorrow," Olczyk said
Tuesday. "That's the way I want to do it."

With incentives, Fleury's contract could be worth more than $5
million a year, a large undertaking for a financially strapped
franchise that has traded away high-priced players, including
Jaromir Jagr and Alexei Kovalev, to slash payroll in recent years.

Fleury will receive $400,000 if he reaches any one of these
incentives: 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 the Calder Trophy
(rookie of the year) balloting this season.

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

"For them, the most important thing is if we do good, improve
and win games," Fleury said. "I don't think right now they care
so much about the contract."

Because of a clause in the collective bargaining agreement, any
player under 20 with junior hockey eligibility remaining cannot be
sent to the American Hockey League or the East Coast Hockey League.
That means if Fleury struggles, he would be returned to his junior
team without possibility of recall for the remainder of the season.

Fleury has been the talk of the NHL since the Penguins tabbed
him as their opening night starter in a 3-0 loss to the Los Angeles
Kings. In nine starts and one relief appearance, he is 3-4-2 with a
2.58 GAA, a .927 save percentage. He also was October's NHL rookie
of the month.

With incentives, Fleury could be the second-highest paid player
on the team behind Mario Lemieux, who will receive $10 million this

Lemieux will miss the game in New York, along with games Friday
in Buffalo and Saturday at home against Florida with an injured
right hip flexor.

Though Olczyk has yet to make it official, Fleury all but
supplanted Sebastien Caron as the Penguins' No. 1 goaltender.
Caron, who was given a four-year, $3.2 million deal in the
offseason, was named to he NHL's all-rookie team after last season.
But he has struggled with an 0-3-1 record and a league-worst 5.67