As you probably know by now, our residential translator Becky has done some work with Max Talbot and Marc-Andre Fleury blogs over the past two years or so. We've already debated going forward with a few of Max's blogs, seeing as how he's no longer a part of the team and all. Odds are we'll see some sort of post from him when the Flyers play the Pens for the first time on Dec. 8 in Philly, or perhaps even when he and the Flyers pay a visit to Consol Energy Center on Dec. 29.
At any rate, here is the latest blog from the former Pen in which he talks about signing with the Flyers and selling his house in Pittsburgh. He goes on for a while about his memories in Pittsburgh. And I know a number of people remain torn on it all (still), but the way he responds to it all is exactly how I'd expect him to.
Read on for more...
A few days after my signing a contract with the Philadelphia Flyers, I am still overwhelmed and excited by the challenge that awaits me.
Several teams showed an interest in me when the free agent market opened on July 1st. I opted for the Flyers because it’s a solid team that I think is capable of winning. When you leave an organization like the Penguins, you try to find another place where you know they’ll take just as good care of you.
From experience, I am very familiar with the Flyers’ organization--given the number of times that we’ve faced them. There is a great rivalry between the two teams, and I am sure that my leaving for Philadelphia wasn’t really to the liking of all the Penguins fans. But in all honesty, I think that it is Jaromir Jagr who has been most criticized in the Pittsburgh papers for not signing with the Penguins.
We talked with four or five teams and things happened very quickly. Some teams told us that they would contact us later. But we wanted to get something done quickly. For those who are interested, the Canadiens did not contact my agent.
I have gotten a lot of messages from Pittsburgh fans on my website, and the reaction to the announcement of my departure is mixed. Half of the people understand my decision and support me. Some say that I will be the only Flyer that they will root for. Other fans are sad because I am going to continue my career wearing the uniform of their Pennsylvania enemy. But I understand their reaction given the rivalry that exists between the two clubs.
When I became an unrestricted free agent, one of my priorities was to join a solid organization. I could have gotten better terms elsewhere, but I thought that in Philadelphia I had the best chance of winning. The second most important aspect for me was the length of the contract. Together with my agent, we wanted a contract of at least four years. In the end, I got a deal of five years and I am very happy with it. That will give me enough time to establish myself and show my leadership.
I knew two days before the draft that my association with the Penguins was about to be terminated. Truly, it was when they sent me an email giving me their final offer that I understood that it was over. Their proposition didn’t make much sense to us and I can tell you that it was far from what the Flyers ended up offering me. From that moment on, I knew that my future would include another team. I remember being in bed and trying to imagine myself in another uniform. Given all the incredible moments I had wearing a Penguins uniform, I found that very difficult. I spent six seasons in a Penguins uniform; I gave my heart to that team and with it I won the Stanley Cup. When I look back on my six years in Pittsburgh, I see only the positive points that came from it.
We’ll see what the reaction of Pens fans will be when the Flyers first visit the Penguins on December 29. I don’t know how I will be welcomed, but no one can take away the energy that I gave to the team and all that we accomplished together. To find myself on the opposite side in Pittsburgh will be very strange. And to play against my old teammates as well. But whatever will happen, will happen. I don’t intend to worry myself about this too much already in July.
I have spoken to almost all of my old teammates and members of the staff since I signed my new contract. Not a single one of them has gotten down on me because I’m going to continue my career with the Flyers, because they all understand the situation. I wanted to join a good organization and it just happens to be that it’s the Flyers.
I’ve spoken with Daniel Brière and Ian Laperrière since I signed with the Flyers. I have also talked with Claude Giroux, who was—just like me—the captain of the Gatineau Olympiques. Chris Pronger also telephoned me. He’s a player that I didn’t know. I also talked to Sean Couturier to welcome him to the Flyers, even though, ironically, I’ve not yet put on their uniform.
I can say that the Penguins and the Flyers are both very classy organizations, with solid owners and teams. Both teams know how to take care of their players and will do whatever it takes to win. To know that you are in good hands when you change organizations and that the new team won’t skimp when it comes to winning, that’s important to players.
I think that the Flyers see me pretty much like an Ian Laperrière. Philadelphia liked my experience and my leadership. It’s important for them to find a leader, especially with all the new faces who’ll be on the team come autumn. At 27 years old, it will be up to me to show my experience, my enthusiasm, and my intensity. I will play the same role that I did in Pittsburgh.
The summer season is chugging along, and I’ve gotten back to training, which is going very well. I am in great shape. I’m going to go to Philadelphia in August, so as to skate with the guys. I’ve also got to make the effort to sell my house in Pittsburgh and find someplace to live in my new city.