An open letter to Cam Talbot

Let’s kick it back two months, shall we? Rangers playing Carolina, some traffic in front of Henrik Lundqvist and suddenly the face of the franchise is laying on the ice with an injury. It stops a fan dead in their tracks. Suddenly, we all channel our inner Dr. Briere and learn the workings of whatever is ailing Lundqvist. Henrik came back for one game, but ultimately was sidelined for the better part of two months.

Since nobody is a guarantee for postseason hockey until late March – and that’s only if you’re very lucky – the often mentally unstable fan base was on their collective ledges sobbing for what could have been of the 2014-15 season. Enter Cam Talbot, a once-career AHL goalie whose first season as a backup with the Rangers last year proved him worthy of a one year extension, signed through 2016. Cameron, I hope you troll the interwebs for your name, cause this is an open letter to you, kind sir.

Dear Cam,

When Hank went down on that fateful day in January, we were terrified. We figured you could play a couple of games til he got back up, and when he played the next game, we all breathed a sigh of relief. But then the diagnosis came. Lundqvist wouldn’t be back for an undisclosed amount of time. We freaked. For this, we apologize.

All we needed from you was an average effort; go .500 til Hank comes back, sneak into the playoffs and let him do what he does best from there. Instead, you gave it your all, which is pretty damn good. There’s nothing better than a great story in sports, it’s what makes it so legendary yet attainable. People hear a story about a guy who played hockey in Alabama, who spent five years playing good hockey in Connecticut with no real possibility of coming up to a city that has one of the best goalies and a veteran backup. You’re relatable. You’re easygoing. You get kissed by Chris Kreider on the regular. For god’s sake, you have the Ghostbusters on your mask. Let’s be friends.

When you come to a city where every single stride you take on the ice is scrutinized, it’s easy to wither in the spotlight. When you come to fill in for the biggest star on the team, the pressure can easily become unbearable for even the most composed person. So for you to come in, as a backup, and absolutely dominate the whole damn league puts you at the Henrik-esque stud level we’ve all gotten spoiled with.

The team rallied around you and came together to be the dominant force in not only the East, but the entire league. And the most beautiful part is that you graciously handed the crown back to Hank on Saturday when he was cleared and well enough to play. No diva like behavior, no sass, and absolutely zero arrogance. You made other teams envious for your skill and showcased your ability, which is clearly one of a starter. The great fans of the Rangers couldn’t thank you enough for being as amazing as you are.



PS – I know Dave had his fangirl moment over Henrik last week, but Cam, your hair, beard and general face are pretty stellar too. So thanks for that also.

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  • To be fair, Cam Talbot was not quite the surprise some people think. He toiled in Hartford for three years, not five. He had to fight his way past Chad Johnson and he did. By the end of his second year, he was THE guy. In fact, he was so well thought of that, after his third year, the Rangers gave him a two year deal, with the second year being a one way contract. Who gives a one way contract to a minor leaguer? Biron’s retirement was a surprise, but Sather was planning on Talbot as the backup for this season long ago. And the contract for next year is excessive for an unproven guy.

    The organization knew who Cam Talbot was before this stretch. And so did some of us.

    • Definitely an interesting observation there, Ray. In fact, I’m really surprised this hasn’t been brought to light already, it seems a pretty powerful counterweight to the lingering narrative of Talbot as the unproven, unprepared AHLer suddenly thrust into the spotlight.

      Looks like Sather was well on top of this one, barring of course the sudden Biron retirement.

      Thanks for sharing.

  • Great read. Cam stepped up to the challenge under the NY pressure and was able to help bring the rags to the top of the league. Extremely skilled keeper. Loved watching him develop, mainly controlling rebounds more effectively and having more confidence playing the puck behind the net. Thankfully, his job is not entirely done.

  • Who ya gonna call?? Cam Tal-bot

    dananana na na dananana na na

    ^obviously I’m no composer, but hopefully you all can see I’m trying to pin down the Ghostbusters jingle here.

    Which kind of has me curious as to why the Garden doesn’t play that theme song, when Cam starts at home. It’s plain as day to me that the building would enjoy it and it obviously fits the NYC theme…

  • I did NOT freak, I felt you had .500 hockey in you. Then after the first few games I FREAKED, now I am so upset you may be our opponent some day!

    Godspeed Ghost-Bustaa-Cam

  • Here’s your 2015 Steven McDonald “Extra Effort” Award winner…Mr. Cam Talbot. (If you haven’t done so already, vote!)

    (Nice write-up, Becky!)

  • After watching Cam last season, and seeing the number of shutouts he pitched, I wasn’t too worried. When he started playing the game he has played for the 20??? game stretch, I was grinning, having never expecting these results, and am very pleased.

    I have posted on numerous occasions my thanks for his performance, and am pleased that he is finally getting the recognition due him!!!!!!!!!

    Dear Becky

    I could never expect this type of write up from you because my hair line runs way back, almost like a watermelon………… LOL!!!!!!!!!!

  • Last yer I saw he was a great goalie and would always say to a friend of mine(jokingly) that he was just as good a Henrik but now I believe it. Cam has a quicker glove hand and can move the puck. The team plays better with a puck handling goalie. Henrik is an incredible goalie but he is getting old. We somehow need to keep Cam around because Henrik is reaching an age where he may become injured easily. This is surely a dilemma.

    • Not a likely scenario. Hank’s not going anywhere, he has a multi-year deal (full no trade and no demotion clause) and the younger goalies in the system like Halverson, Shestyorkin, and to a lesser extent Skapski are being groomed for the future. Talbot is not really that young. He turns 28 this summer (Lundqvist is 33). By the time Lundqvist’s deal is done in the summer of ’21, Hank will be 39 and Talbot 34.

      Talbot will be long gone by then. If someone gives the Rangers a great package this summer, he’s likely gone. Or they’ll trade him at next year’s deadline for a piece they may need. But if he’s still around next summer, they’ll just let him walk. Then only way he is the Rangers goalie long term is if Hank suffers a serious injury.

      I like Talbot a lot too, but there have been many examples of goalies who excel in a relatively small sample of games only to come back to earth when given the number one job, especially in the playoffs. For a team built to win now, you go with a proven playoff performer who is considered one of the best in the world…..and that’s the King!

    • I love Cam Talbot, but there is no dilemma. The Rangers chose to cast their lot with Henrik Lundqvist last year and there is no going back. Long term, Talbot wants to play and he wants a good salary. It is impossible for the Rangers to keep him. One might question the Lundqvist contract in hindsight, but there is a secret to being a good general manager. It is not about making perfect decisions; it is about making good decisions consistently. Hank is slightly overvalued here, but conservatively he has been among the ten best goaltenders in the NHL every single year that he has played. That is amazing consistency and the Rangers won’t fail to win the Cup because they are lacking in goal.

      I am not certain if the Lundqvist contract was a good idea, but if it was not, it will be because Lundqvist abruptly declines much sooner than expected and not because Talbot is better (even if he is).

  • Becky! You are an unbelievably good writer, putting into words what the rest of us are thinking (sans the fan girl stuff). Simply a wonderful post.

    This backup goalie is the story of the season. I feel the Rangers are a classy team relative to some others (hello captain MacD) and even their backup goalie, with every reason to cop a ‘tude, is a leader in that regard.

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