Even Talbot surprised he returned after collision

Even Talbot surprised he returned after collision

October 25, 2013, 8:00 am
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Max Talbot’s first thoughts were of his fiancée and the baby she’ll soon be having.

It was late in the second period of Thursday’s 2-1 win over the New York Rangers (see game recap). The Flyers’ gritty forward had just taken an awkward hit and toppled, face first, into in the boards. He struggled to get up, clutching at his nose and stumbling toward the tunnel to the team’s locker room.

Everything happened so fast, Talbot wasn’t sure how badly he was hurt. He knew Rangers winger Benoit Pouliot had been behind him. He knew he lost his balance as he headed toward the boards by the Rangers’ bench. And, of course, he saw the blood.

It was a very scary moment.

“It’s a weird feeling,” Talbot said. “Obviously, I don’t wish that to anybody.”

Talbot returned to the Flyers’ locker room, where he was evaluated by team doctors and passed all the necessary concussion tests. It was then that he decided he would return to the game -- it was a close one, worth a badly needed two points, after all.

As goalie Steve Mason put it: “That’s just the type of player he is.”

“You walk it off,” Talbot said. “You see it’s a tight game, as well. Took some time with the doctors, talked, we did all the tests. … Everything seemed OK. We patched up my nose a little bit.

“When you feel you’re fine to come back, you come back.”

Talbot is lucky. Hits from behind -- intentionally or not -- often lead to much more serious outcomes. And though he turned out to be all right, the play looked bad. Talbot’s attempts to hoist himself up after it looked even worse.

Because of how gruesome the collision appeared, Talbot’s teammates were shocked that he was able to return to the Flyers’ bench for the third period.

“I was right there on the ice [when Talbot got hit] and I didn’t know what to do,” Matt Read said. “I thought he was done. But it was good to see him come back. He’s a true warrior on this team. And he comes back and his nose is all bandaged up, and it just shows how much heart he has.”

It turns out, though, his teammates weren’t the only ones taken aback that he was well enough to rejoin them.

“I was surprised a little bit, too,” Talbot said. “I felt fine. I felt stunned, when you get hit like that, when you hit your face like that, but after that, I walked around and stuff, felt great, and came back.”

Pouliot’s hit will automatically be reviewed by the league, since he received a major penalty and game misconduct for it. But it’s unlikely he’ll receive any further punishment because Talbot wasn’t injured and returned to the game.

Even further, the Flyers are in agreement that the hit wasn’t at all malicious. It was a combination of Talbot’s misstep and Pouliot’s unfortunate timing.

“It was more of an accident than anything,” coach Craig Berube said. “I do believe that. I don’t think he intentionally tried to -- I think Max was a little bit awkward going in there, and he was at that distance from the boards where it’s always a dangerous, dangerous position. I don’t think Pouliot pushed him. Kind of a little bit of a bump, and he was just off balance.”

Talbot, in fact, admitted that he thinks he tripped before he was touched by Pouliot, anyway. Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said he believed Pouliot was trying to go shoulder to shoulder with Talbot.

“I don’t think Pouliot is a dirty player either,” Talbot said.

After the game, Talbot was visibly swollen and had a sizable gash taped up on his nose. The Flyers’ doctors photographed the cut and will send it to a plastic surgeon, to determine whether Talbot will need any subsequent plastic surgery or skin grafts. To put it in plain terms, the gash isn’t pretty.

Talbot, however, handled questions about the severity of his condition with his typical charm.

“It’s just a little scratch,” he said, grinning.

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