"We all spend time with people that lift us and we all spend time with people that bring us down. And Max is one of those guys that lifts up the people around him." -- Dan Bylsma
The Pittsburgh Penguins' forward knows just how good he has it, and isn't afraid to let people know that having the career he has is a blessing.
"I'm the kind of guy that likes to have fun," Talbot told NHL.com. "I feel that life is precious and I want to enjoy the most out of it and that's the way I live my life. I'm really happy to be here. I'm lucky to have the chance to play and I think that shows."
Talbot never is going to lead his team in scoring, but it's the energy he brings on and off the ice that helped the Pens win the 2009 Stanley Cup as much as any Sidney Crosby goal or Marc-Andre Fleury save.
"We all spend time with people that lift us and we all spend time with people that bring us down," said Penguins coach Dan Bylsma. "And Max is one of those guys that lifts up the people around him."
Talbot's smile is infectious, and on a team ravaged by injuries, his return Nov. 19 from offseason shoulder surgery has provided a tremendous boost. The Pens went into Monday's game at the Rangers with four wins in Talbot's first six games back in the lineup.
"He brings a lot of life to the room," Bill Guerin told NHL.com. "He's definitely a guy that brings that energy every single day no matter what the situation is. He's had a tough year with the surgery and all that, having a slow start to the year, but he always comes in with a good attitude and positive, always picking guys up. He's a fun guy to have around and he shows up every game. You can count on him to be the same way every game."
"He's a character," added Matt Cooke. "I think when you can have someone like that in your room it definitely livens the spirit and maybe makes things seem not as bad as they are."
Talbot put on his full uniform -- including pads -- on opening night and skated to center ice to be with his teammates as the Stanley Cup banner was raised to the Mellon Arena roof. It was a banner he played a major role inn winning as he scored both goals in the Pens' Game 7 victory against Detroit. But it would be the last time for a while he would be on the ice.
Watching training camp and the first quarter of the season
"It's harder when guys lose games," he said. "The last week or so before I came back that's when I really wanted to come back, because we had a couple guys getting hurt."
In six games he has a goal and an assist, playing an average of 15:14 per game, including 1:35 on the penalty kill, a number that certainly will go up as the season wears on.
At Monday's morning practice he skated on a line with Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but no matter where Talbot plays, he always seems to make an impact. Whether it was scoring those two Game 7 Stanley Cup Final goals, or engaging Philadelphia's Daniel Carcillo in a series-changing fight in the first round of the playoffs, Talbot always seems to be doing something to help the team.
"Along with the energy he brings to the room, he brings it to the ice with a work ethic and determination and effort level," said Bylsma. "There's a tenacity that goes along with him. Those are his NHL skills, not the standard scouting skills that you might look at, skating and passing and stickhandling. He's tenacious, he's determined, he's hard-working, and he brings that shift after shift. That's what he brings to whatever situation he's playing in, whether it's penalty kill, if he's on Sidney's wing or he's playing as a third-line wing. He brings that and that's something that a (minor league) call-up might be able to bring better skating and better stickhandling, but that NHL work ethic, toughness and determination is tough to subtract from your lineup.
"For us it's almost like we got a midseason trade because it wasn't there all season, wasn't there in training camp, but now we've added it."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org.