After the better part of four seasons spent in Edmonton, it’s almost fitting that Cam Talbot’s official unveiling as a member of the Calgary Flames came during Stampede Week. Talbot made the trek down Highway 2 to check out the city and met with local media on Sunday morning at Winsport.
"The core of this team is only going to get better. They have a great group of young players and great leadership. It's an appealing spot for any goaltender."
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) July 6, 2019
Talbot repeatedly expressed his excitement for the chance to play on a Flames team that finished second overall in 2018-19.
“You look at the group and what they were able to accomplish last year,” said Talbot. “The core of this team is only going to get better. They have got a good group of young players and great leadership, so i think it’s an appealing spot for any goaltender to want to play. I’m really fortunate to have landed here.”
After playing in a couple markets with defensive groups that were, to be polite, works in progress, it’s obviously appealing to Talbot to play behind an impressive defensive group in Calgary. Reigning Norris Trophy winner Mark Giordano anchors the blueline group and drew praise from Talbot.
“Anytime you can play behind a Norris Trophy winner,” said Talbot. “And obviously he’s the backbone of this team and drives this team, so I’ve heard nothing but good things about Gio and his leadership abilities and also he complements a lot of the young guys, too. Like I said, it’s a very deep team and I’m looking forward to being a part of it.”
Speaking with the media at Winsport, Flames general manager Brad Treliving elaborated on the process that eventually led to the club honing in on Talbot during the courting period. The process really began after the season ended and the team took stock of where they wanted to go.
“Part of it’s not just about who you’re going to get, but what you have,” said Treliving. “How can we build it? You know, we’ve talked about it here for so long about growing one of your own. So to me, it’s how do you create that path to give David [Rittich] the best opportunity to grow and mature and move forward? So that was a part of it. Then you look at the options out there. We spent a lot of time on it. You can want them, they gotta want you too, so then you get into the talking period and go through that process. So, how long did it take? We formulated a plan once the season ended and sort of brought it into action once the talking period started.”
The goaltending plan for 2019-20 seems to be the Flames using a tandem of Talbot and Rittich, with each player pushing each other to grow their game. That plan seems like music to Talbot’s ears as he seeks to put a painful 2018-19 campaign behind him.
“I’m looking forward to meeting David and to just complement him,” said Talbot. “He’s a good young goaltender. Like you said, he took his game to another level last year, had a heck of a season, just coming in here and to compete and push each other to be better, and looking forward to being a part of that tandem.”
With the Rangers, Oilers and Flyers, Talbot wore 33. He wore the same jersey number in college, too. He’s not sure what number he’ll wear with the Flames, but he says it won’t be 33.
“We’ve thrown around a few ideas,” said Talbot. “Obviously David’s got 33, so I haven’t decided on anything just yet. Haven’t worn anything other than that in the last 13 years, so it’s going to take some time to decide… I think I’ll just go and pick a different number.”
Responding to a media question, Talbot noted that a year ago he wouldn’t have anticipated that he’d be in the position that he’s presently in – preparing to tend to the twine on the southern side of the Battle of Alberta. But he seems up to the challenge.
“It’s kind of an odd feeling coming down Highway 2 and coming to play on the other side of the Battle of Alberta, but it’s also an exciting time,” said Talbot. “We’re looking forward to being part of this group, my family is looking forward to being part of this community, and can’t wait for September.”