Hockey

Talbot influences Penguins positively

Maxime Talbot finally feels like a hockey player again. The playoff hero, who scored both goals in the Pittsburgh Penguins victorious 2-1 victory in the seventh and deciding game in the Stanley Cup final last June, is seven games into his comeback from off-season surgery on his left shoulder.

Stanley Cup hero makes difference since return from off-season shoulder surgery

Maxime Talbot finally feels like a hockey player again.

The playoff hero, who scored both goals in the Pittsburgh Penguins victorious 2-1 victory in the seventh and deciding game in the Stanley Cup final last June, is seven games into his comeback from off-season surgery on his left shoulder.

Talbot experienced all the frills from being a Stanley Cup champion — a day with the prized trophy, a ring and banner-raising ceremony at the start of the season. But while his teammates prepared for the season, endured training camp and shook off the rust in the first six-plus weeks of play, Talbot became a solo figure rehabbing on his own.

"It was still a special summer," he said. "Instead of people coming up to you and telling you not to worry because you were so close, like last summer, when we lost the final, people were coming up and reliving and talking to you about winning the Stanley Cup.

"But it was difficult not to play for so long. Five months was a long time. Nobody wants to be injured and not playing. But at the same time, I first injured my shoulder when I was 16. It was time to get it fixed. I feel better than ever."

His Penguins teammates couldn’t be more pleased to have the 25-year-old Talbot healthy and back in the mix. He is immensely popular in the dressing room and his positive outlook is infectious.

The Penguins have gone 5-2 since Talbot’s return and he has played mostly on a line with his buddy Sidney Crosby and Bill Guerin. Crosby, who first met Talbot at a hockey school 12 years ago, certainly has snapped out of his slump playing alongside his friend.

"It has been great playing on a line with Sid," said Talbot, who received a warm ovation when he hopped over the boards for his first game at home on Nov. 25 against Montreal.

"That was special. But you know it also was something to dress in my full equipment for the banner-raising ceremony and hear the fans cheer when my name was said."

Talbot has scored only once and assisted on another in his seven games this season. But even though he checked in with 46 goals and 104 points with the 2002-03 Hull Olympiques in a season they advanced to the Memorial Cup final, Talbot has not been a big point producer in the NHL. He waits until the playoffs to chip in big goals.

In 268 regular season games, Talbot has scored 43 times and registered 82 points. In 46 playoff games, he has 11 goals and 23 points, including three game-winning goals.

Talbot’s big-game heroics have plenty to do with his positive frame of mind. He expects good things to happen to him, something that is preached in the self-help book, The Secret.

"Yeah, I’ve read the book and what I learned is that I already was practising what the book teaches," Talbot said. "It just confirmed to me that if you expect good things to happen to you, they happen. I’ve always been a positive guy."

Where do this optimism and work ethic come from? Talbot says his parents, Serge and Lucie.

"My dad is blue collar, a construction worker who has worked hard his whole life," Talbot said. "My mom is a loudmouth. She’s the one I get my positive attitude from."

When the Penguins won the Stanley Cup at Joe Louis Arena last spring, Talbot didn’t seem concerned about basking in the glory with his teammates. Instead, his eyes searched for his family in the crowd so he could bring them down to ice level and share the triumphant moment with them.

Eventually, his parents and brothers Will and Frank, made it in onto the ice surface with Talbot.

Family also was a central part of Talbot’s day with the Stanley Cup on July 31 in his hometown of St-Bruno-de-Montarville, a Montreal suburb on the south shore of the St. Lawrence. The day included a fundraising brunch for the Children’s Wish Foundation, a parade down the main street, with as many as 10,000 onlookers and, of course, a moment to show off the game’s top prize with his 97-year-old grandmother, Clothilde.

"It was quite a day," Talbot said. "I was glad I could share it with them and the town."

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