Say what you will about a guy who leaves town for the Flyers, but that sentiment tends to change when faced with a guy like Max Talbot. If the Pens and Talbot couldn't come to terms (they couldn't) and he could get what he wanted in years/money elsewhere (he did), then fans are likely to respond in a number of different ways that won't deviate too far from the following:
1) Hate to see him go. This is horrible.
2) Good luck and thanks for the memories
I'm going to come right out and say that it's really hard and one hell of a stretch to try and call him the latter of the three. I'd like to think variations of points No. 1 and 2 are the dominant reactions to the signing.
Max wasn't, isn't and probably won't be a 20-goal scorer at any point in his career. He wasn't a hard hitter, a set-up man or even a cog in the wheel. He was an energy guy. A scrappy guy. A "put your life on the line to stop a shot even if it's not a playoff game" sort of guy. Every team needs it. Every team wants it. The Flyers just wanted it more.
I'm typing this from my couch, a mere five feet away from the Penguins shrine that surrounds my television: Six different photos/plaques, the ceremonial "C" for Sid's captaincy, three pucks, a few scattered hockey cards and right in the center, a box of City of Champions cereal with Max's elated face during the Stanley Cup finals.
There was a call transcript circling a bit the other day that stemmed from Max's first interview since becoming a Flyer. To be honest, I wasn't all that interested in posting it here because outside of a Pittsburgh question or two it all spun (rightfully so) in the direction of joining the Flyers.
So I was pretty happy to see Rob Rossi nail down a great Q&A with Max that's up on the Trib-Review site today. Here is just one excerpt that stood out to me, but the rest is a must-read (especially the part where he texted Geno):
On his signature Penguins memory:
"Tough to pick just one, but the day of the (2009 Cup) parade, and lifting that thing in front of the fans — that was unbelievable. Also, having dinners at Mario's house with Sid; those meals were special. The thing that just popped into my head is late this season there was a sign I remember. It was a little kid and the sign said, 'Max, Love You!' Yeah, Pittsburgh is a special place.'
I'm one of what I hope is the many Penguins fans who appreciated everything Max did for the team. Now I'm just left to wonder how he could possibly share a line with Jaromir Jagr, who apparently has problems with playing alongside a left-handed shot.
Good luck, thanks for the memories, and may he always find himself in a scoring drought against the Penguins.