In this week’s Throwback Thursday piece, we take a look at “The Superstar” Max Talbot. The Pittsburgh Penguins drafted Talbot 234th overall in the 2002 NHL draft. In 2003 and 2004, Talbot led his QMJHL team Gatineau Olympiques to back to back President cups while being honored as the playoff MVP in both seasons.
In the 2005-06 season, Talbot made his NHL debut against the New Jersey Devils and would later unconventionally score his first career goal by scoring from center ice. Talbot was mainly used as a penalty killer and energy line type of player. Talbot would later be sent down to the AHL with the Wilkes-Barre Penguins after 48 games in the NHL.
Although Talbot didn’t start on the NHL roster in the 2006-07 season, he did get the call up early in the season on October 24th. He continued to play an integral role on the penalty kill, scoring a career-high four shorthanded goals. Talbot would finish the season on the main roster, registering 24 points on 13 goals and 11 assists.
The following year, Talbot got off to a hot start by scoring his first four goals in the opening five games. Again, he would play a crucial role on the penalty kill with not just two shorthanded goals but a multitude of blocked shots. Talbot would go deep into the playoffs for the first time playing 17 games, scoring three goals on six assists; but to no avail as the Penguins would fall short of the Stanley Cup.
The 2008-09 season was one of Talbot’s most magical years on multiple levels. He would have another season with over 20 points, scoring 22 on 12 goals and ten assists. Talbot would dish out some punishment as well as taking some, with 115 hits and 47 blocked shots. Never mind the statistics, there was one moment in the postseason that would make Talbot a legend in Pittsburgh forever.
One of the most iconic things Talbot did was in the first round of the playoffs against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Penguins were down 3-0 in the game, then all of a sudden, Talbot would drop the gloves against known “goon” Daniel Carcillo and subsequently got torn up by said “goon”. Talbot proceeded to get up and shush the Philadelphia crowd, firing up the Penguins to a comeback win and securing their place in the next round of the playoffs.
The Penguins would eventually end up back in the Stanley Cup finals. The series was brutal, with each team not giving an inch. The finals would end up in a pivotal game seven in Detroit. Before the game, the players were asked who they thought will win the game for Penguins, and most said the stars like Crosby or Malkin. When they got to Talbot, he said with a stone-cold face, “it’s going to be me”.
Talbot was right, as he ended up scoring both goals in a 2-1 victory, giving the Penguins their first Stanley Cup since 1992. Talbot in the playoffs that year scored eight goals on five assists totaling 13 points, making that the most ever for him ever in the playoffs.
Talbot would make the playoffs two more years with the Penguins, but all ended without the glory from that 2008-09 Stanley Cup win. Talbot would finish his Penguin career with 52 goals, 56 assists, and 108 accrued over six years in Pittsburgh.
Max Talbot was one of those gritty two-way forwards that was never afraid to sacrifice his body if it meant victory. Although Talbot didn’t finish his career in Pittsburgh and he played for “the enemy” in Philadelphia, he will forever be enshrined in the hearts of Penguins fans for a long time to come.
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