Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Marc Siciliano on 07/25/11 at 10:00 AM ET
Author’s Note: ‘The Orange & Black Breakdown’ is officially open for business. I’ll be getting this party started over the coming weeks with a short series entitled ‘Welcome to the Flyers”, which will profile all of the fresh faces likely to don the Flyers crest this year. Look for more and more as the season approaches at The OBB on Kukla’s Korner, and thanks again for reading!
Welcome to the Flyers, Maxime Talbot.
A once bitterly hated division rival whose job was to silence the crowd in Philadelphia is now responsible for invigorating it. So what’s a Flyers fan to do? I suggest you embrace it, because there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the presence of #27 in Philadelphia for the foreseeable future.
His most obvious and immediate impact will be felt on the penalty kill. There, he can combine forces with fellow French Canadian Claude Giroux and be the meat opposite of #28’s silky smooth potatoes. Since entering the league, Talbot has potted at least two shorthanded goals in every season but one, which was an injury riddled 09-10 season. Serving as one of the most consistent penalty killers on the top unit of the last several years in Pittsburgh, Talbot should do wonders in helping offset the loss of Mike Richards and his talents on the penalty kill. His presence will be a welcome site to a team that ranked a lowly 19th last year on the penalty kill and in dire need of a defensive-minded facelift.
Even though his special teams prowess might be his greatest asset, it would seem that Talbot’s folklore in the steel city can be traced to his success in the playoffs. Not necessarily known for his ability to light the lamp, he has a knack for elevating his game to a new level when it matters most. A career 0.28 point-per-game player in the regular season, Talbot has amassed 33 points in 66 playoff games for the Pittsburgh Penguins (0.5 PPG for those mathematically impaired), almost doubling his rate of production. That’s a huge bonus to have on your bench if you’re Peter Laviolette come May. These points have come at crucial times too, such as his 3-point performance in a clinching 4-1 win in the Eastern Conference Finals over Carolina and infamous, Stanley Cup winning 2-goal Game 7 just days later versus Detroit. Clearly, this reputation is well deserved.
To many, this may seem like more than enough reason to justify such a contract as his: a no mess, $1.75 million taking Talbot through the prime of his career with the Flyers. But there is even more to be said for the guy with the same cap-hit as the backup goalie next season when you start to look closer.
The no-touch icing on the cake? It weakens your biggest rival. While the Penguins organization will be able to replace his roster spot with another player and ultimately withstand the loss, there is no doubt they will miss his versatility and experience in their lineup. He was crucial to a Pittsburgh team for a multiple reasons, both on and off the ice. He had a major presence in the locker room and was counted on for more than just his hockey skills. In a rivalry such as the one that has evolved between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, knowing you’re playing your former team can serve as that extra bit of motivation you might need on waning days of the regular season or in the heat of the playoffs. Ultimately, he represents the blue-collar work ethic and ‘character’ that made Pittsburgh proud to have him and Philadelphia ripe to enshrine him.
So feel free to go pick up your official Max Talbot fake, unofficial, possibly taped together with scotch tape winter classic jersey from your local Mom & Pop website and rub it in this guys face – the Flyers got anything but quieter this offseason by signing Max Talbot.
Talbot should give Philadelphia plenty of reasons to ignore his previous request
(Find me on twitter: @marcs797)
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