July 1st, 2011, "Free Agency Frenzy Day".....a moment in Flyers history that'll never be forgotten. For one reason, we went out and signed Jaromir Jagr; a man this city learned to hate for many, many years prior. A man we heard and forgot about all at the same time when news broke on his return to the NHL.
But there was another pickup that caught the Broad St. faithful by surprise.
Max Talbot, a Stanley Cup winning Pittsburgh Penguin and loathed by Flyers fans everywhere, signed on-board the Holmgren Express for the next five league years. The 27-year old Quebec inhabitant was added to the Bullies roster for his tenacity, his hard work, and lower line grinding, but much more importantly for his penalty-killing abilities.
Someone had to fill the PK void left open by Ian Laperriere's extended absence. Shot blocking, poke-checking and great hockey sense is asked from the special teams players when battling against the man-advantage.
Seeing as how Lappy was going to ride another season on the LTIR, Richards and Powe were given a plane ticket out of Philadelphia, and management had other plans for Blair Betts, something had to give.
This move was questioned and hated from both ends of the Keystone State. Max's Facebook fanpage was bombarded by the butt-sore Penguins enthusiasts who believed Talbot owed them some more loyalty than to sign with a heated division rival --
(On a sidenote; Let's not be too quick to judge these blockheads. I'm sure Arron Asham's Facebook fanpage looked very similar, but with Flyers posters, after he skated off to the Pens)
Judging from those examples and the fact Max even had a "YOU SOLD OUT" page created in his honor, it's safe to assume this move slid against the grain a bit.
Not me, though. I logged on to the Flyers Fan Shop site on July 2nd and ordered my customized #27 Flyers sweater.
Yes, that's me. Maybe a week or so after Max Talbot became a Philadelphia Broad Street Bully. I understood Maxime's value to a team like the Flyers. And as of late, so has the rest of Orange & Black nation.
Talbot currently has eight points logged (5-goals, 3-assists) in fourteen games played. And while the Flyers remain to be one of the leading clubs in the NHL in being shorthanded, Max has done his part putting his body in front of the puck, grinding it loose and cutting the heads off the opposition's PP chances.
But let's revisit the total points he has so far into the schedule; Eight.
He's currently on pace to score 29-goals, and end the 82-game regular season with 46 points total. Will those numbers match by season's end? Probably not. He's only played all eighty-two games once in his career, so it's a bit naive to believe he'll have the same number under his belt come April 8th, 2012.
However the fact remains that he's never started a regular season in the NHL so hot. The most pucks he's ever nested in a single season came in 2006-2007 when he had 13 in 75-games played. He's eight away from that total in only a month with the Flyers.
He's played the wing position and center, and has also worn the alternate captain's patch in Danny Briere and Chris Pronger's injured absence.
Talbot averages 20.28 shifts a game. To give you some perspective, Claude Giroux's averaged 25.14.
It's taken only fourteen matches for Talbot to become one of the favorites in Orange, Black and White. And have I mentioned he's got quite the personality? I mean, it'll be tough to beat Mike Richards' West German BMW commercials, but --
What a nerd.