The playoffs give me angst. For the duration of the Penguins’ chances I will feel sick to my stomach nearly all the time. A portion of that is desire to win, and a large chunk has been devoted over the last few years to hoping this isn’t the moment James Neal does something stupid.
I’m obviously not alone. You guys know the love/hate – maybe you don’t feel it the way I do. Maybe you’re more forgiving. Many of you are not. I get really, foolishly, heart-breakingly mad about this stuff [Exhibit A | Exhibit B – don’t read them though, they hurt]. I finally bought a James Neal shirt in Pittsburgh, as if spending $32 is some kind of bargain with the universe.
So I was happy reading this interview by Dejan Kovacevic in which James addresses the issues of his dirty play and poor decision-making like an adult. Alison vetted the article first (breaking our shared rule about never reading Pittsburgh hockey media):
Of course saying something doesn’t mean James will do it, but it’s a place to start. Acknowledging the impact his actions have on the team and looking at guys who have won it all are important steps. Now we need him to stay on the ice as flashy goal-scoring James Neal and not, as someone on Twitter so perfectly called him, “Rabies Neal.”
This James, please:
So we can get to this James:
I want one less thing to worry about
starting April 16 every game. I want to defend the evolution of a skilled player who rises above past mistakes, not be relegated to blograge and drowning my emotions in a tub of Skittles.
Also I really want the damned Cup.
Serious-voice (sick voice) James appeared on the Avs intermission last night, sounding like Bruce Wayne. I still don’t love the sleeve tattoo but the burgeoning gingerbeard gives me dreams of wrist shots and goals from the top of the faceoff circle and victory well into the post-season. I am here, James, at this second – third – chance and counting on you to hold it together. Let the only people losing their minds in these playoffs be on my side of the glass.
Tags: james neal, Pittsburgh Penguins