Hope on the Rocks

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.


Does this expression look familiar?

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.


I wish it didn’t.

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):

Kovacevic: Neal sees playoffs as ‘second chance’

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.

With Skittles.


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  1. BATMAN. His shirt – and that voice – practically declares it so, right?
    ALSO – I’d almost forgotten what that ginger beard looked like, like a figment of my imagination washed away with the devastation of last year and what…no. NO. I won’t go there. It’s a whole new world, a whole new playoffs, a whole new playoffs. Let’s do this, Pens.

  2. Kate Reply

    Aww man. I read the article this morning and yeah, okay, I’m kind of hopeful. Between the suspension, the call-out by Stewart, the AskNeal fiasco, the Team Canada snub, I just kept thinking that he has to realize that things are not okay. Sure, I’ll miss his little “what is violence anyway” quips but I’m tired of Nealer the Sassy Shithead. I’d much rather have him actually playing, far into June and playing good, tough, clean hockey.

    (I also feel like James needs to spend more time with Paulie, who seems so calm and centered and focused. They can wear glasses and talk about their feelings and eat breakfast together. Maybe do some centering sun salutations?)