No, he didn’t spend too much time with the B’s after joining the team at the March 1 trade deadline, but he spent enough time in Black & Gold to understand what the 2014-15 Bruins were all about.
Now, after some key personnel changes during the offseason, the team is different. Talbot realizes as much.
But what he doesn’t understand is some of the chatter he has heard about his team over the last few months.
“I heard some words which I hated this summer — ‘reconstruction’ — and you know, this just [ticked] me off because we still have the core. We have a very strong core,” Talbot said in Montreal, during the fifth and final stop of the 2015 #BearTracks tour. “We have great players, and for us, I think we can only use that as motivation. It’s going to be a great season, and the Cup is up for grabs.”
Part of the reason Talbot served as such a key addition to the Bruins at last year’s trade deadline was his attitude. He is a player who is always full of energy, full of life and full of positivity.
And he still believes in his team now just as much as he did when he became a part of it last year.
“Every year, you start on the same line,” he said as he drove from his training facility to his home on the south shore of Montreal. “Every team has the same chance of winning the Stanley Cup. For us, it’s a couple of new players, but the core is the same, and I’m sure the goal will be the same.
“Flying a little bit under the radar for the Bruins [is] going to be different because expectations have been so high the last couple seasons.”
Talbot is still relatively new to the B’s. After being moved from Colorado to Boston at the deadline, he played in a total of 18 games in Black & Gold, which was just enough time to get acclimated to a new coaching staff and a new system, but not enough time, unfortunately, to lead the B’s into the postseason.
In Talbot’s eyes, there were several factors that led to the Bruins missing the postseason for the first time since 2007, but two carried more significance than the rest.
“I think what came out at the end of the year was a lack of consistency, and that is something that you need to have to win — to be consistent game after game,” he said. “I feel like when you start [being inconsistent] like that, you’re always kind of running after your tail, where you’re like, ‘OK, we’ve got to win this stretch; we’ve got to win the next seven to be in a great position.’ That’s a tough position to put yourself in.
“Then you’ve got the injuries: Guys are pushing to come back from injuries, and instead of taking the extra two, three days, they’re pushing a little bit, and they don’t feel themselves. So there’s a lot of things that come into play, and a lot of details that happened last year where, you know, we were in a tough spot, and unfortunately, a lot of teams did very well as well. Look at Ottawa — the number of games they won to squeeze in was great. So a lot of factors happen.”
The good news is, September marks the dawn of a new season, when the Bruins can officially leave last year’s disappointment behind. It is a new opportunity for the B’s to prove they can make a run at the biggest prize the NHL has to offer, and Talbot, for one, believes it can happen.
He believes the 2015-16 Bruins have the attitude and the will it takes to win.
“Being a hockey player, you need to be passionate about your sport, about the team you play for, and that’s certainly something I am,” he said. “I’ve only been a Bruin for 18 games, but it is so exciting to wear that ‘B’ in front of the sweater. You need guys to want to wear that jersey, and to want to win with that jersey on, and that’s something that shows on the ice.
“Every time you step on the ice, you’re proud of the team you represent, and you’re proud of the city you represent, and the fans, so that’s the mentality that every guy should have, and will have, during camp.”
Talbot is somewhat familiar with Boston’s offseason acquisitions. He played with Zac Rinaldo in Philadelphia for parts of three seasons and said he texted Rinaldo earlier in the summer to welcome him into the fold. He does not personally know Matt Beleskey or Jimmy Hayes, but what he has heard about them has been music to his ears.
“I’ve known Rinaldo, playing with him in Philadelphia, and I know he’s going to bring a lot of passion and energy to his game; he’s a guy that’s tough to play against, and that’s going to bring a lot of energy, for sure,” Talbot said. “I don’t know Beleskey or Hayes; I heard only great things about the guys, the personality they have. And they’re great team guys, and everybody loves them, so that’s always a great thing — when you hear that the guys are not only good players, but good [people], and I think it’s so important.”
In less than a month, Talbot will begin his first full season as a Bruin, and since mid-April, he has been preparing for it. He has continued to work with the same strength coach for the last 14 years, and this summer, they focused on plyometrics. In fact, Talbot said that this summer has felt much different from the past two because he was fortunate enough to end the season injury-free.
That is always a bonus heading into summer workouts: Having the ability to dive in head first without worrying about rehabbing any lingering ailments.
“It’s been a great summer [of] workouts for me because I started the summer with no injuries, and that’s important,” he said. “I finished the season two years ago with a broken leg and then last year I had shoulder surgery, so you start the summer and you’ve got to rehab, and you’ve got to work on your injuries, and after, you can gain the speed and the strength.
“So I’m very happy because this summer’s been a very good summer, workout-[wise], for me, and I feel like I got faster and stronger this summer. I hope it’s going to translate on the ice; that’s why we work so hard.”
Just as important as the energy Talbot brings on the ice, however, is the energy he brings off the ice. When he arrived in March, it didn’t take him long to acclimate to his new surroundings. His positivity and energy were contagious. He is a natural leader — natural in the sense that he doesn’t ever try to lead. He is simply being himself, and other players naturally follow his lead.
“I’m looking forward to this year — just taking the time to know every guy on the team, the young guys and the prospects, too,” he said. “The younger guys on the team — it’s nice to [get] to know them and to have a little bit more time to spend time with them, and know their personality, and who’s in the system, and that’s what I’m looking forward to. That’s part of being a good leader and a good team, as well.
“For me, my game and my leadership is simple: it’s just [to] be myself because every day, I get to the rink and I’m so excited. I think it translates on the ice. We’re lucky to play hockey, to do what we do, so that’s my mentality: Every day, I’ve touched the ice, and I’m happy doing it, and hopefully, it translates and it shows the guys that, ‘OK, let’s go to work. Let’s have fun, but go to work.’”
Perhaps leadership comes naturally to Talbot because he knows exactly what it takes to go all the way. He has, after all, won a Stanley Cup, and to him, the difference between contending and falling short is miniscule. It is a thin line, and at the beginning of the season, every team is capable of crossing to the other side.
It is just up to that team to find the will to do so.
“The line between winning a Stanley Cup and not making the playoff looks very big, but it’s smaller than everybody thinks,” he said. “We could have squeezed in last year with one more, two more points in the standings, and surprised a lot of teams in the playoffs, and there’s a lot of things need to happen throughout a year that will make you successful in the end. That’s a process, and we can get to camp this year and hopefully, that’s what’s going to happen — that you get to camp, and everything glues together, and then you find chemistry. Once you find chemistry, you win, and then winning will bring fun, and then next thing you know, you [change] one or two positions at the trade deadline, and then you can win a Cup.
“So it goes fast, and the line is thinner than people think. It’s nice to be the favorite at the start of the year on paper, but a lot of things can happen; a lot of little details need to happen to win a Stanley Cup, and that is a process. When you look back, you see, OK, this happened in November, and this happened in February, and then look at this little move we made, and then this guy played well that game, and that kind of changed the momentum of the season.
“So it’s a process where little details come together, and you end up at the end of the year, and you’re a champion.”