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On the other side now

Talbot ready for other side of Flyers-Pens rivalry

Saturday, 09.03.2011 / 1:05 PM / News
By Adam Kimelman  - NHL.com
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On the other side now
When he realized he wasn\'t coming back to the Penguins, forward Maxime Talbot prepared to continue his career elsewhere -- he just didn\'t expect the rival Flyers to come calling.
Some phone calls simply give you pause.

Maxime Talbot, a six-year veteran with the Penguins, was a bit surprised that one of the first phone calls he got when he became an unrestricted free agent July 1 came from Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren.

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Maxime Talbot knew the answer before the question was finished being asked -- are you looking forward to your first game back in Pittsburgh.

"December 29," he told NHL.com, adding the day is circled on his calendar. "It's normal, I think."

After six seasons with the Penguins, Talbot signed a six-year deal with the Philadelphia Flyers on July 1, moving from Western Pennsylvania to the eastern part in the bitter Keystone State rivalry.

"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."

He said he's not sure what to expect when he returns to Pittsburgh, but he knows he won't hear it as bad as one of his new teammates -- Jaromir Jagr, who started his career with the Penguins and nearly re-signed there this summer before opting to join the Flyers.
"The Flyers called and I stopped for a second," Talbot told NHL.com, "and I'm like, is this something I could do? And I said yes."

The 27-year-old forward signed a six-year deal that day, adding fuel to the bitter rivalry. One of the more popular Penguins players due to his rough-and-tumble style, ever-present smile and outgoing personality, seeing Talbot trade gold and black for orange and black was tough news for some Pens fans to handle.

"I got … messages on Twitter and Facebook from (Penguins) fans," Talbot said. "Half of them are taking it to heart and saying how could you do that. The other half said thanks for everything you did and good luck in Philly."

Talbot said it wasn't easy leaving Pittsburgh, but as free agency approached he realized he didn't seem to be in the Penguins' plans.

"The first step for me this summer was to realize that I was not going to be back with the Pens," he said. "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."

That made signing with the Flyers an easy decision for Talbot.

"You know one, two players on every single team in the League," he said. "You hear about the way ownership and the organization takes care of their players. Let's say there's 10 top teams (in the top third), 10 middle teams … the Flyers always come up in the first third. It's their reputation and I think it's well-deserved. Since I signed here, I know camp hasn't started, but I can see the professionalism of the ownership. You feel like you're in good hands. It would have been tough for me to move from Pittsburgh to a team that you have to build a lot more."

After facing Talbot 32 times during the past six regular seasons -- plus a pair of knock-down, drag-out playoff series -- the Flyers know just what they're getting.

"He's that kind of player that, when you play against him, you can't stand him," forward Claude Giroux told NHL.com. "He's in your face, won't leave you alone. When he's on your side, he's doing the same things to the other players on the other teams. I think he's going to be able to help us a lot this year.

"I know the fans here are going to love him. He works hard, he can hit, he can fight, he can score goals. He's the kind of player the Flyers fans can like."

While the battles on the ice were fierce, Talbot said he couldn't help but build a respect for the players he was battling against.

"There's a huge respect," he said. "As much as Pittsburgh and Philly don't like each other, there's a tremendous amount of respect for both teams. Both have been at the top of the League the last three years. There have been some great battles. There's obviously respect, but that's why you don't like these guys that much. Because they're a good team, because you know they can beat you and you know you can beat them. It's going to be a team that can put the most effort into winning that will win.

"You’re used to battling all those guys, but let's say I would see Hartnell at an NHLPA meeting, I would go look him in the eyes and shake his hand. You get in the room here, you meet the staff, you meet the players, and say this is the team that I'm going to work with this year and this is the team I'm going to grow as a family with."

With his former family in Pittsburgh, Talbot went to the Stanley Cup Final in 2008 and won the Cup in 2009 -- he memorably scored both Penguins goals in a 2-1 Game 7 win in Detroit. He also became as well-known off the ice for his work in the community. He hopes to replicate that kind of success on and off the ice with his new family.

"We created something down there," Talbot said of Pittsburgh. "It's the love. It's more about being a fan favorite down there and starting my own foundation down there, making an effort to build a brand, something special with the fans, the fan mail, trying to respond through websites. It was something I took pride in. It was a special situation for me in Pittsburgh. But what stops me from building something like that here? Changes are tough, but changes are life. It's not for the worst sometimes; it can be for good or better."

Talbot said he's already made inroads with a fan base looking forward to seeing him in action for their favorite team.

"I went to an Eagles game last week and I connected with some fans," he said. "They said we're glad to have you on our side. Hopefully I can still build something like I had in Pittsburgh because it was pretty special. When the fans like you, you know you're doing something right."

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 TBL 50 31 15 4 163 132 66
2 MTL 47 31 13 3 127 108 65
3 NYI 48 32 15 1 157 135 65
4 DET 49 28 12 9 145 128 65
5 PIT 48 27 13 8 143 124 62
6 WSH 48 25 14 9 144 124 59
7 BOS 49 26 16 7 131 123 59
8 NYR 46 27 15 4 135 111 58
9 FLA 46 21 15 10 114 129 52
10 PHI 50 21 22 7 139 151 49
11 TOR 50 22 24 4 144 155 48
12 OTT 47 19 19 9 129 134 47
13 CBJ 47 21 23 3 119 148 45
14 NJD 48 18 22 8 109 135 44
15 CAR 47 17 25 5 102 122 39
16 BUF 49 14 32 3 92 174 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Voracek 50 17 41 11 58
C. Giroux 49 16 36 7 52
M. Streit 50 7 28 0 35
W. Simmonds 50 18 13 -4 31
B. Schenn 50 11 20 -2 31
S. Couturier 50 11 12 0 23
M. Read 50 3 15 -8 18
M. Del Zotto 38 4 12 -6 16
M. Raffl 40 12 3 6 15
V. Lecavalier 36 7 7 -9 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 10 12 6 .922 2.40
R. Emery 8 9 1 .887 3.38
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