The 2004 Team Canada roster includes four present or
past members from QMJHL. As Sidney Crosby and Stephen Dixon are born in Nova Scotia, Marc-Andre Fleury and Maxime
Talbot are the only representatives of the Quebec’s province at this
WJC. Both are Pittsburgh Penguins
The number one overall pick of the last NHL Entry
Draft doesn’t need to be introduced. Fleury is not just a natural-born talent,
he is endowed of an exceptional charisma.
He is quite an endearing person, always smiling when he gives formal or
non-formal interviews. He never looks stressed and seems to just enjoy life and
the sport he is playing.
“He is very agreeable and the media like to talk
to him,” said Andre Brin the Manager of Media relations of Hockey Canada.
“In the future, Fleury has the potential to be a
marketing force,” said his agent Allan Walsh earlier this week. He added
Fleury could be the first hockey player to break through in the US the way
Wayne Gretzky did in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
When asked after the Friday’s team practice what are
his main strengths, at first, Fleury answered with a sincere wide smile that he
didn’t really know. After a while, he finally said he is always working very
hard during the daily practices and likes to challenge the opponents. “I
just try to stop the pucks”, he also said. Are you aware of your charisma
and the good words said about your personality? “Not really, I don’t
really pay attention to what is been said off the ice, what I really care about
is the hockey,” answered the Sorel-born phenom.
Last year the best goaltender and MVP of the WJC,
Fleury recognized after the January 2nd team practice that he has not been very
occupied during the first three games he has been involved in the first round
of this year WJC. He is confident he will he ready when necessary.
“Every time he makes a stop, we all perceive it
helps the team to perform well,” said Mario Durocher Team Canada coach.
The other Pittsburgh Penguins prospect has a similar
personality of Fleury’s. But Talbot has not been credited with the same amount
of talent. “I was never the best player on my teams in juniors but always
only the second or third best,” said the native of St-Bruno de
Talbot, an assistant captain of team Canada, adds he
always had to work very hard to be among the best and still “has to double
his efforts to succeed to do what the other Canadians team members are
realizing.” Talbot is realistic, saying “I’m not in Finland because of
my talent and my natural skills.”
“Maxime Talbot is a true leader who will give
everything he has on every single shift on the ice,” said Coach Durocher.
Durocher adds that it is true Talbot is not the most talented of his team but
he does accept his role and knows how to get his teammates together in the
Lucie and Serge Talbot, the parents of Maxime, are in
Finland for the WJC. They are very proud of what have done their son on and off
the ice. “You know, Maxime offered us this trip to Helsinki despite the
fact he has not signed yet with Pittsburgh,” said his mother obviously
with some emotion in his voice during the Canada-Ukraine game previously this
week. “We are very touched by his deed, it is much more difficult to
receive than to give,” added his mother.
“As parents, our goal is that he has fun and
does what he likes in life, in the hockey world or not,” said Lucie
Talbot. Maxime is completing his fourth season in the QMJHL. If he does not
make the NHL he will have another option.
While playing junior, he made preparations for
college. He worked so hard he accumulated enough credits to begin studies at
the level university as soon as January 2004 if he wishes. This kind of
accomplishment is not very common in QMJHL and says a lot about the tenacity of
this NHL 2002 eighth round pick. He plans to study journalism.
is the author of La Serie du siecle, Septembre 1972, a book about the
Summit Series published in 2002. At the 2003 WJC, he collaborated for the
Montreal newspaper La Presse. This year, he is collaborating with Radio-Canada.