To say that I was upset when the Penguins opted not to re-sign Max Talbot over the summer would be an understatement. I mean, without Max, who will “shhh” the opposing team’s fans at a pivotal point in a playoff series? Without Max, who will beat the piss out of Marc-Andre Fleury on the runway prior to every game to stir up MAF’s cat-like reflexes? Without Max, who will have the bragging rights over Sidney Crosby about the Stanley Cup Game 7 scoresheet? Without Max, who will have the balls to tell that douche Ovechkin what we really think about him? Without Max, who will be the superstar in all those silly A&L Motors ads? And finally, without Max, who is going to play with the Penguins’ kids at the annual Christmas party skate? You see, Max Talbot was much more than just another hockey player. He was part of the heart, soul, and identity of the young Penguins team. To top it all off, the superstar chick-a-chee’d his way right across to the dirtier side of the state to become a Philadelphia Flyer….yes, that same crowd he shhhh-ed so effectively just a couple seasons ago. For many of us, that is Max disappointment…
However, while many Penguins fans feel a sense of betrayal by Max for going with the Flyers, I hold no grudges against him. He was, after all, a guy that wanted to stay and play in Pittsburgh and someone that will rightfully always be remembered for his contributions to the Penguins’ third Stanley Cup. Ultimately, Max had to do what most hockey players do when their stock is near its peak….and that is to find the best deal they can. The Flyers were able to tender him a 5-year deal worth $8.75M, which was longer and more lucrative than anything the Penguins were willing or able to offer him.
In a recent interview with Adam Kimelman over at NHL.com, Max stated that “The first step for me this summer was to realize that I was not going to be back with the Pens. That was obviously tough. It was a hard thing, because I had been there six good years. But when that was set aside, I wanted to make the best decision for Max Talbot — the best organization that gave me the chance to win, an organization that treats its players well and takes pride in winning and doing the right things.” He went on to say, “It would have been tough for me to move from Pittsburgh to a team that you have to build a lot more.” “I’m a proud guy,” he said. “It’s something where I can’t forget where I’ve been. It’s not like flipping a switch and I hate those guys. I owe them a lot, and I hope Flyers fans can forgive me for saying that. I was there six years. But when I play them I’m going to play them as hard as I can and I’m going to play them as a Philadelphia Flyer and do everything I can to beat them. That’s what I do.” Indeed, that is what he does.
More to the point, Max will be treated by his former teammates as a Philadelphia Flyer when he faces off against the Penguins for the first time in his career on December 8th in Philly. He also will likely not get a local hero’s welcome from the Penguins’ faithful when he skates into Pittsburgh for the first time on December 29th. But such is the game of hockey in Pittsburgh, without Max…..