Little boys dream big when it comes to playing sports, believing one day they’ll be destined for the pros. Even better, their best friend will be playing right alongside them when they get there. Then reality sets in.
Except for Max Talbot and Bruno Gervais. The two played pee wee hockey together while growing up in Longueuil, Quebec, a town outside Montreal. Now, just like they always planned, they are teammates in the NHL.
Talbot, a defensive specialist on the penalty kill, signed with the Flyers last year as a free agent. This summer, after consulting with GM Paul Holmgren, the Orange and Black brought in Gervais.
“It’s great. To have two best friends on the same team, it’s nice to share,” said the 29-year-old Talbot. “It was always a dream since we were 10 years old, playing Phantoms and pee wee. It’s like playing with your brother.”
Of course, the Flyers have that, too, with Brayden and Luke Schenn. But they’re just kids still learning the ropes. Talbot and Gervais are NHL veterans, with a true appreciation about how rare something like this happens.
“When you crack it [the NHL] at first you joke around and say, ‘It would be crazy one day if we could play on the same team,'” laughed the 28-year-old Gervais. “I don’t think we realized then how slim the chances were. It’s so hard to get the timing right and you can never control that. And we were both happy where we were. But now it’s happened and been something special.”
According to Gervais, it happened without warning.
“There were a few teams interested who wanted to make an offer,” said Gervais, a stay-at-home defenseman, with 16 career goals. “One of them was waiting for the [Ryan] Suter and [Zach] Parise thing to play out. The Flyers actually came from out of nowhere, but when the offer was put on the table it was a no brainer for me.”
A strong recommendation from Talbot helped.
“Homer [Holmgren] asked me about him,” said Talbot. “He wanted help on defense and got Bruno. He’s been doing a great job ever since.”
Gervais, Talbot giving back to community
Bruno Gervais and Max Talbot have more in common than just hockey. The two also work closely on a charity project dedicated to improving the lives of less fortunate children.
“We started our own charity, the Gervais-Talbot Foundation five years ago,” said Bruno. We’ve raised over $700,000 so far. We got the idea going on a father’s trip. We have a golf tournament and other events every year. We sell out every year. We’ve given money to 25 different charities in Quebec.”
Gervais and Talbot organized an exhibition series in Quebec during the lockout and donated the proceeds. Successful in Canada, now the pair hopes to raise awareness in Philadelphia.
“We both really are big competitors,” said Gervais. I know, I know, he’s won a Cup. “But I know we’d love to win one together. That would be great.”