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Season Review: Max Talbot

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins
Hockey players set different goals for themselves before each season. Score more goals. Produce more points. Win more draws.

But all forward Maxime Talbot wanted to do entering last season was to get through it in one piece after he played just 45 games in the 2009-10 campaign thanks to offseason shoulder surgery and a groin injury,

And he ended up doing just that, being one of just two Penguins to play in all 82 regular-season games.

In fact, he’s pretty certain he didn’t even take a day off.

“I don’t think I missed one practice this year,” Talbot said. “It was tough after shoulder surgery. But this year, playing all the games was an objective for me, which I reached and I’m really happy I did. I proved myself.”

Talbot embraced the expanded role that came with an influx of injuries to the rest of the Penguins forward corps, seeing his average ice time per game increase by nearly three minutes compared to the 2009-10 season. He was also a crucial component of Pittsburgh's penalty kill, which finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in the NHL for the first time in franchise history.

And once again, Talbot played his best hockey during the most important part of the season – the playoffs.

Pittsburgh’s 2009 Stanley Cup hero tied for the team lead with four points (1G-3A) in seven contests against the Tampa Bay Lightning, playing every game with the grit, determination, heart and passion that is his trademark style.

Not only did Talbot step his game up on the ice, but he continued to contribute off the ice as well, sharing the Edward J. DeBartolo "Community Service" Award with teammate Mike Rupp at the annual team awards ceremony.

Some of Talbot's most memorable moments off the ice included his sojourn to Haiti last August with Rupp – that affected Talbot so deeply that he set up a silent auction upon his return to raise funds to help build an orphanage in the earthquake-ravaged country – and his trip to the Pittsburgh Zoo in March to visit a tiger cub named after him.

Tied for team lead with four points (1G-3A) in seven contests ... Recorded two assists in Game 5 - added an assist in Game 6 for three helpers in a two-game span ... Averaged 2:27 shorthanded minutes per game ... Added a plus-1 rating and nine shots ... was plus or even in six of seven games.

2010-11 REGULAR SEASON: Bounced back from an injury-plagued 2010-11 season to appear in all 82 games, posting eight goals and 21 points ... Topped 20 points for fourth time in career ... Important penalty killer ranked second among forwards with 2:55 shorthanded minutes per game ... Fifth among forwards with 154 hits ... Tied George Ferguson for fourth place on the team's all-time shorthanded goals list after tallying 12th career shorthanded goal Feb. 26 at Toronto ... Recorded 100th career NHL point (goal) Feb. 2 vs. NY Islanders.

GP G A P PIM +/- S Hits
82 8 13 21 66 -3 117 154

GP G A P PIM +/- S Hits
7 1 3 4 14 1 9 12

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Click here to view the full photo gallery of Max Talbot during the 2010-11 season!

Below is the full transcript of Max Talbot's chat with the media on the Penguins' locker cleanout day on April 29.

On if he’s optimistic if he’ll be back:

Yeah, obviously it’s something where I’ve been here the longest after Brooks Orpik, so you guys know how much this team means to me.

On if there’s a struggle between wanting a big contract and maybe taking less money to stay in Pittsburgh and if he’s thought about that:
You think about it. Ray’s going to talk to Dan and we’ll see if I’m still in the plan, and that’s where it starts. It starts with them and you guys all know my position, so it’s all going to be about talking. Like I said, everyone knows how much I want to stay here. So we’ll see what’s going to happen in the next couple of days. It’s definitely something that it’s the first time in my career I’m in that position, so it’s not something that’s fun because it’s uncertain. But at the same time, we’ll see what happens.

On if he expects something to get done soon either way:
I have no timeline, no expectations. I’m not sure what to think right now. It’s not something where Ray told me, ‘Oh, we’ll talk in the next three days.’

On how good it would be to get some of the free agents back:
It’d be huge. We have a great, great group of guys in here. It’s something where you look at all the guys that did a lot of work this year. There’s a lot of guys that deserve a lot of credit for what we’ve done this year. We have a great group of guys, there’s not one guy in this dressing room where you’re like, ‘Ugh.’ Everybody is a friend and family. It’s unfortunate the way it had to end this year, because we knew we could have done more, but at the same time, that’s hockey and losing Game 7 is never fun.

On the thinking that him and Dupuis might be the hardest to sign out of the free-agent group because of they seem to be the most offensive players:
I don’t know if it makes it harder or easier, but I cant really put myself in the team’s shoes. All I think about right now is my own shoes and what I want to do, and you all know what my position is on that.

On if it’s a disappointing end to the year despite their great regular season:
It is disappointing. You play to win. You play to go as far as you can. You play to succeed, have success and losing in the first round is definitely not what I imagined this year. With or without the (injured) guys, I think we had potential to go farther than we did. So it is disappointing. I’ll leave it at that, because you never want to lose in the first round. I truly feel we should have won that series. It’s disappointing.

On how he would assess his first full season after shoulder surgery:
You know, I’m happy with the way it went this year. I don’t think I missed one practice this year, which, for me – you know, you guys always kept talking about the last two years how hurt I was sometimes, and it was tough after shoulder surgery. But this year, playing all the games was an objective for me, which I reached and I’m really happy I did. I proved myself. I had quite a bit of ice time this year without (some of) the guys – Sid and Geno – I was pretty consistent. I always want to put some more pucks in the net and do more offensively, but I’m pretty happy with the way that my season went.

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