Starkey: Talbot criticism ludicrous

| Thursday, Dec. 8, 2011

Plenty of grist for the mill on a juicy sports Thursday that features Steelers-Browns and Penguins-Flyers ...

> > On what grounds would any rational person rip Max Talbot for having chosen the Flyers in free agency?

Loyalty• Please. The Penguins weren't "loyal" to Talbot in the form of offering a raise, nor were they obligated to be so. Business is business.

The notion that Talbot soiled his legacy here• Laughable. His legacy is etched permanently onto that silver chalice the NHL presents each spring. He did nothing to ruin his good name.

"That's hockey life. Of course, we think about money," says Talbot's former roommate and linemate, Evgeni Malkin. "Philly gave him more. It's not a big shock for me. Good city, good team. It's good for him."

It's not like Talbot had 28 other teams calling. He took the best option, going to a club that gave him 8.75 million reasons. Players don't choose jobs based on jersey colors. This is their livelihood .

> > Jaromir Jagr, on the other hand, with an assist from agent Petr Svoboda, sunk to the depths of dishonor in free agency. Jagr flirted with the Penguins. He insisted, through Svoboda, that his "heart" was here. Yet he couldn't take yes for an answer. Svoboda didn't even bother getting back to Penguins general manager Ray Shero before Shero's 11 a.m. deadline on free-agent day. It was a classless display that ruined any chance Jagr had of making peace with the franchise.

> > Not sure if I can stand the drama of Hines Ward's chase for catch No. 1,000. The Steelers should open the game with 10 straight bubble screens and get it over with.

> > Dave Wannstedt ripped the Pitt coaching staff for its handling of Tino Sunseri• Hey, if anyone knows quarterbacks, it's Wannstedt.

> > The last time a Thursday night sports menu had a local flavor this strong was Dec. 20, 2007 — the night Levance Fields beat Duke, Sidney Crosby beat Andrew Ference (sort of) in his first NHL fight and Willie Parker broke his leg in St. Louis. Oh, and Daniel Sepulveda completed a pass to Najeh Davenport.

> > The Penguins know all too well from the Sidney Crosby case — which took another turn Wednesday when he was ruled out for the next two games — that concussion symptoms sometimes do not appear for days. As such, there is no way star defenseman Kris Letang should have been allowed to return to the Nov. 26 game at Montreal.

Late in the third period, Letang -- since diagnosed with a concussion -- was left in a bloody heap by Max Pacioretty's blatant head shot. As per NHL protocol, Letang was taken to a "quiet room" and examined by a doctor. In this case, it was the Canadiens' team physician, who cleared him to return.

The Penguins are lucky Letang did not sustain another head hit in overtime. They should take a cue from the Steelers, who have denied the likes of Ward and Troy Polamalu permission to return to games after sustaining head hits. Good for them they are being extra cautious with Crosby.

> > Put it like this: Next time a Penguins player takes a vicious shot to the skull, the kind where any reasonable person would suspect a concussion, he should not be permitted re-entry regardless of what happens in the "quiet room." That's a call Shero needs to make.

> > Can't wait for the LSU-Alabama rematch. First touchdown wins?

> > In the time the Steelers have employed Chuck Noll, Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin as head coaches, the Browns have employed (deep breath): Blanton Collier, Nick Skorich, Forrest Gregg, Dick Modzelewski, Sam Rutigliano, Marty Schottenheimer, Bud Carson, Jim Shofner, Bill Belichick (who?), Chris Palmer, Butch Davis, Terry Robiskie, Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini and Pat Shurmur. Did I miss anyone?

> > If you're among those who booed Sunseri last Saturday, get a life. College kid, local kid, maybe his final home game, team's winning, and you're booing him as he runs onto the field to replace Anthony Gonzalez• Appalling.

> > Back to Wannstedt: His repeated criticism of Pitt comes off as the bitter ramblings of a man who couldn't win the pitiable Big East in six tries -- mostly because he couldn't develop a quarterback. At least Todd Graham didn't lose to Ohio in year one.

> > The final 14 of the 15 Browns coaches listed above combined for four playoff wins, or as many as the Steelers had in 2005. The problem for many was they couldn't find a quarterback. They should have consulted Wannstedt.

> > Clint Barmes, Rod Barajas, Nate McLouth, Erik Bedard. I smell a championship.

> > Penguins 4, Flyers 3.

> > Steelers 40, Browns 3.

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