PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — One is pretty sure how he’ll be received tonight and the other isn’t quite sure.
The first is Flyers forward Jaromir Jagr and the second is teammate Max Talbot. After a wild summer free agency period that saw both sign with Philadelphia, the two will skate on Consol Energy Center Ice as Flyers for the first time tonight.
Both return under quite different circumstances.
Listen To Jagr’s comments from the Flyers’ morning skate:
Listen To Talbot’s comments from the Flyers’ morning skate:
Jagr — second to only Penguins owner Mario Lemieux in goals (439), assists (640), and points (1,079) as a Penguin — had widely documented negotiations with the Penguins in June leading up to the beginning of free agency. His agent, Petr Svoboda, said Jagr had strong interest in returning to Pittsburgh.
In the end, though, Jagr chose to play for Pittsburgh’s arch rival, Philadelphia.
He said he knows exactly how he will be received tonight — to a parade of boos, as was the case when returning in the past as a Washington Capital and New York Ranger. Jagr stressed, though, he’s not out to prove himself to anyone. He said Wednesday after practice in Castle Shannon that he just wants to come away with two points in the standings.
“That would be the worst thing, if I want to show somebody I still have it,” Jagr said. “I don’t (have) to prove anything to anybody; I don’t think I would (be) playing my game if I wanted to show somebody.”
Talbot returns in a different situation. While he won the hearts of many fans in Pittsburgh for his two goals in Game 7 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals to win the Cup, the Penguins organization made it clear they were only willing to pay so much for Talbot’s services.
He tested the market and ended up signing a five-year deal with the Flyers for considerably more than Pittsburgh offered.
Still, returning in an orange and black sweater might not win him much support among the 18,000-plus in attendance tonight.
“Maybe it’s not nervousness, it’s more excitement,” Talbot said of his anticipation for tonight. “It’s a game that at the start of the year you mark on your calendar… being back here in Pittsburgh is even more exciting. In the end, it’s a hockey match and it’s a big two points.”
Talbot told the Post-Gazette’s Dave Molinari that he hopes the reception he receives is a positive one.
“I always said how much I respected and loved my time in Pittsburgh and how special it was,” Talbot said. “Hopefully, I’ll get a good reception, but you don’t know.
“Hockey fans are passionate and it’s something that comes with being a hockey player. For me, it’s exciting to be back here and it’s a big game.”