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Bruins' Talbot cherishes new Winter Classic memories

by Dan Rosen

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- From throwing snowballs at mascots near the bench in Buffalo to playing in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, Boston Bruins forward Max Talbot has his fill of memories from past NHL Winter Classic games.

His latest, and now favorite memory came Wednesday during the Bruins family skate at Gillette Stadium, the home of the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic between Boston and the Montreal Canadiens on Friday (1 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVAS).

Talbot and his wife, Cynthia, had their son Jaxson, 22 months old, on skates and on the ice for the first time in his life.

"I had the GoPro going," Talbot said. "These are memories you'll cherish forever."

Talbot thought his opportunity to create cherished Winter Classic memories was gone for good on Jan. 1, 2008, when an ankle injury prevented him from playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins in the inaugural Winter Classic game against the Buffalo Sabres at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

He instead watched it from near the Penguins' bench with goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who was also injured. Talbot said they had a blast, especially when they were throwing snowballs at the mascots, but he couldn't shake the angry feeling he had about missing the game.

"Oh yeah, I was [mad]," Talbot said. "I did everything I could to try to play that game because it's such a hyped game. When I realized I wasn't playing I was like, 'Oh my God, I missed my chance.'"

No, he didn't.

"[Three] years later we got another one at Heinz Field," Talbot said.

He played for the Penguins against the Washington Capitals in the only primetime Winter Classic game on Jan. 1, 2011. A year later, as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers, he played against the New York Rangers in the Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park.

"And now a couple years later I'm here," Talbot said. "I guess I'm pretty blessed to have a chance to play in these big games."

This one means more to Talbot than the others. He appreciates it more because he wasn't a sure thing to get to this point with the Bruins earlier this season like he was with Pittsburgh in 2011 and Philadelphia in 2012.

Talbot has already been sent down to the American Hockey League and called back up three times. He's been put through waivers twice.

He was most recently recalled on Dec. 8 and has played in eight of 10 games since. Talbot didn't play on Dec. 22 and 26 because he was serving a suspension stemming from his hit on New Jersey Devils forward Jiri Tlusty on Dec. 20.

Talbot, though, is coming off his best game as a Bruin. He had two assists and played a season-high 15:28 in Boston's 7-3 win against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday.

"I feel the Winter Classic was so far away in my head at the start of the season because I was up and down and in and out of the lineup," Talbot said. "I'm glad I can be part of this. Take away this event and I'm just glad I can help the team have success, play good and be a part of this team."

This Winter Classic experience is made even better for Talbot because the opponent is his hometown team. Talbot grew up on the south shore of Montreal in Lemoyne, Quebec, 20 minutes from where the Montreal Forum once stood.

"I never really had a chance to go to any games at the Forum because we didn't have the money," Talbot said. "But it's going to be fun to play against them here.

"I'm going to cherish the game and hopefully get the two points."

That would be obviously be good, but it still might not beat the experience Talbot had Wednesday seeing Jaxson on the ice for the first time.

That's his new favorite Winter Classic moment.

"By far," Talbot said.


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