The nickname "Mad Max" couldn't possibly fit Maxime Talbot's personality any better.
Talbot's on-ice, balls-to-the-wall style of play has made him a fan favorite in the Steel City—and it is equally matched by his ever-present sense of humor and locker room antics off the ice.
Born in LeMoyne, Quebec, Talbot is set to enter his fourth season as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Talbot is most famously known in Canada for his performances as a member of the Hull Olympiques in the QMJHL.
Max was named captain of the Olympiques before the 2002 season. It was a decision that would spark Talbot to explode for 46 goals, 104 points, and 69 penalty minutes in 69 games.
Talbot one-upped his regular season performance in the playoffs, scoring 44 points in 20 games and leading the Olympiques to the QMJHL Championship.
As if a QMJHL Championship wasn't enough, Talbot served as an alternate captain for Team Canada during their silver medal win at the World Junior Championships.
The following season, Talbot finished third in scoring in the QMJHL, and was named playoff MVP for the second consecutive season±the first player to accomplish such a feat in nearly 30 years.
Prior to the 2004-05 season, Talbot was signed by the Pittsburgh Penguins, and was assigned to their AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Talbot altered his playing style once he came to the States, becoming more of a gritty forward rather than a top-line center. He finished his rookie campaign with the Baby Pens with 19 points in 75 games.
After a solid training camp, Talbot debuted with the Pittsburgh Penguins on the opening night of the 2005-06 season. He scored his first NHL goal against the Philadelphia Flyers, and served mainly as a penalty killer for the Penguins. He would be sent back to the AHL after 48 games in the NHL.
Talbot didn't start the 2006-07 season with the Penguins, but was quickly called up to the NHL after just five games in the minors. He remained with the team for the rest of the year, recording 24 points.
Last season was by far the best of Maxime Talbot's NHL career. He was a key player for the Penguins, despite being sidelined for about a quarter of the season with an ankle injury.
When Max was in the lineup, he made the team better, and that is an attribute coaches recognize. Talbot was exceptional on the penalty kill, and registered the highest point total of his NHL career, despite playing in just 63 games.
Talbot's nine points in the playoffs came at ideal times on the Penguins' road to the Stanley Cup, despite him once again having to miss four games due to a broken foot.
Perhaps the most memorable moment of Max's career came in Game Five of the Stanley Cup Finals, when Max scored a goal with 35 seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime. Petr Sykora eventually scored the game-winner for Pittsburgh in the third overtime.
Off of the ice, Talbot's big heart and even bigger smile have made him a fan favorite in Pittsburgh. Whether it's delivering pizzas to the student rushers outside of the arena, or going door-to-door to deliver season tickets to fans, or simply just entertaining everyone during an interview, Max Talbot has a true passion for the game of hockey.
Whether he is putting on Crosby's jersey and saluting another teams' crowd at a morning skate, hiding the clothes of his rookie teammates in the showers, or hitting announcer Dan Potash with a shaving cream pie, Max never ceases to put a smile on the faces of all those that know him.
Off of the ice, Talbot knows how to have fun, but when he laces up the skates and steps onto the rink, he is all business. He gives 110 percent on the ice on every shift.
Mellon Arena faithful are familiar with Talbot's pregame ritual in which he heads out onto the ice by himself in his tennis shoes about an hour before game time and shoots pucks into the net.
Max Talbot's gritty play and clutch goal scoring have made him a valuable asset to the Penguins' team, and have ultimately made the Penguins a better team.
But it's his big heart and wide smile that have made Penguin fans better fans.
Let's Go Pens.