Jan. 29—NEW YORK — Wild goaltender Cam Talbot spent two years in New York City at the start of his NHL career and that time literally changed his life.
That's because Talbot got to come to work every day and learn from Henrik Lundqvist, the longtime New York Rangers goaltender who was set to have his No. 30 jersey retired on Friday night at Madison Square Garden.
Asked what he learned from Lundqvist during their time together, Talbot recited a laundry list of qualities, most of which had nothing to do with anything being between the pipes. On top of Lundqvist's tremendous skill set, Talbot mentioned how his preparation, mentality and work ethic set him apart from most of his peers.
"You name it and he's got that in spades," Talbot said. "There was nothing better as a young guy coming up than to be able to learn from one of the best to ever do it. I took some of that stuff and brought it along with me, and it's still part of my game to this day."
Now, almost a decade later, Talbot is the star goaltender for the Wild, and fittingly, he will be in the crease on Friday night for the game against the Rangers.
As much as he wants to win every game he plays — Talbot learned that mindset from Lundqvist — he isn't taking the once-in-a-lifetime ceremony for granted. He plans to soak in the moment pregame while the No. 30 jersey gets raised to the rafters of the most famous arena in the world.
"It's going to be really cool," Talbot said. "He was the face of that franchise for the better part of 15 years. There's no one more deserving to have their number up there than him. I'm just happy we're going to be there to be a part of it."
The fact that Talbot is playing in the game is also something he isn't taking for granted. He tweaked his lower-body injury during Monday's 8-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens and did not play the final 20 minutes of regulation.
After the game coach Dean Evason made it clear that Talbot could have returned to the game. They just wanted to be careful with the game already well in hand.
"It was just precautionary," Talbot said. "I said that I could probably go back in and the training staff and coaching staff talked and said it wasn't worth it being the point of game that it was. I could've battled through. But it was probably the smart thing to take the 20 minutes off and regroup and be ready to go."