and Maxime Talbot watched from the sidelines when Pittsburgh played in the inaugural NHL Winter Classic at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Jan. 1, 2008, thanks to ankle injuries both had suffered the month before.
So what did they do to stay warm while the snow piled up around them?
Throw snowballs at the mascot, of course.
“Don’t tell,” Fleury said with a smile.
Fleury’s trademark grin and Talbot’s friendly personality have made them fan favorites here in Pittsburgh. So it’s no surprise they found a way to have a little fun wearing bulky jackets covering their suits while their teammates skated around in a blizzard.
But all joking aside, the two players are ecstatic for a second chance to actually take the ice in the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Heinz Field on New Year’s Day.
“I think we’re both very fortunate to have a second chance,” Fleury said.RELATED: Sixteen Penguins Excited to Participate in First Winter Classic >>
At the time, Fleury and Talbot had come to terms with their injuries, accepting that they weren’t going to recover in enough time to play.
Neither player had reason to believe the Penguins would get to participate in another Winter Classic so quickly, much less host it here in Pittsburgh.
“I was worried about my injury first, I wasn’t really thinking about the Winter Classic at that time,” Fleury said. “But the closer we got to it, the more we heard about it. I was just hoping, hoping that one other time in my career, I’d have a chance to be able to play and to see what it’s like on the ice.
“We’re fortunate enough to have it and to have it here in Pittsburgh, too. So it’s pretty cool.”
Before watching the game with Fleury and the 71,217 fans in attendance in Buffalo, Talbot got a taste of what it was like to skate outdoors on such a huge stage when he participated in that morning’s skate with his teammates.
Now he’s ready for the full course.
“It’s something where I was part of the team even though I was hurt,” he said. “Now I feel good, I feel healthy, I’m pretty fortunate and blessed to have another chance.
“Life gives it back to you, and I’m pretty fortunate to be able to compete in another one.”