James Neal Ready for New Start in Nashville

Tuesday, 07.01.2014 / 3:06 PM / News
By NashvillePredators .com
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James Neal Ready for New Start in Nashville
I would like to thank the Penguins organization for everything over the past three years. Coming from Dallas and playing in Pittsburgh was an unbelievable opportunity for me. Now I get to start a new chapter in my career and I couldn\u2019t be more excited to be with the Nashville Predators and get things going.

His opening remarks…

I would like to thank the Penguins organization for everything over the past three years. Coming from Dallas and playing in Pittsburgh was an unbelievable opportunity for me. Now I get to start a new chapter in my career and I couldn’t be more excited to be with the Nashville Predators and get things going.

On the mixed emotions of being traded and whether he is excited about being brought in to be a difference-maker in Nashville…

Yes, any time you are traded it always comes as a shock. I think even if you knew you were going to get traded it comes as a shock. But to be welcomed into Nashville by so many people and so many fans and to come in and be a top guy and come in and take on a leadership role is something I’m really excited for. It’s a crazy time but it’s a really exciting time. Like I said, I’m excited to get into Nashville and get ready for a great season.

On how he will adjust from playing one of the top offensive teams in the league to a team that has struggled to find offense…

I think that is part of why I came into Nashville. You look at what Nashville did last year, playing over 50 games without their best player, goaltender Pekka Rinne. Our defense is great with Shea Weber and obviously things are changing here and we’re going to be a more offensive team. I talked to coach Laviolette and there’s nothing but a bright future ahead. I need to step up and be a top guy on this team and be a leader. I’m excited for the challenge.

On how his game will fit in with Peter Laviolette’s offensive style…

I like it a lot. We had some good battles with the Penguins and Flyers. It’s going to be a good change and I’m excited to be a part of that.

On how he has improved his behavior on the ice since receiving multiple suspensions while with the Penguins…

Sometimes your emotions get the better of you and there are things that have happened that you regret. I think I’ve changed and become better for it. I think I’ve changed as a player. I’m still growing as a player and am still young and I’m going to still learn along the way. I just have to move forward and not let that stuff happen again. I think I just need to concentrate on being a leader on this team and taking my game to the next level.

On who he has previous relationships with on the Predators and who has reached out to him so far…

I’ve heard from a lot of guys so far – Mike Fisher, Shea Weber and I spoke the other day. There are a lot of great players and a lot of great people and I feel like I can fit in as a person.

On whether he will reach out to potential free agent targets to come to Nashville…

Yes, of course. It started with the acquisition of me and it’s clear we’re looking to build our offense to be a more powerful team, so I’m all on-board for that.

On going back to the Western Conference where he first started his career…

I know a lot about the Western conference coming from Dallas. It’s tough, there are a lot of big teams but I think my time with Pittsburgh and Dallas have helped me grow as a player and as a person. I am excited to be back in the West, there are a lot of great teams and a lot of good competition and we’re going to be a part of that.

On why he feels Pittsburgh came up short this year…

I think anytime you’re surrounded by guys like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin there are a lot of expectations to win and sometimes those can hurt you a little bit. It’s hard to put your finger on why we didn’t succeed, but when you don’t win change is needed and that’s why things are happening in that organization. But like I said, it was fun times and it was too bad we didn’t succeed. Now hopefully I’m on to bigger and better things.

On whether he had any idea he was going to be on the move after the season…

It was a surprise, but when you don’t win and under-achieve, change is going to come. Obviously you don’t try and look into anything too much. It’s a little tougher when you get the call and you’re around your teammates. I’ve dealt with it before and the people of Nashville couldn’t have reached out to me any more than they did, and it makes it that much easier and that much more exciting.

On what kind of team he sees in the Predators…

You see a team that missed the playoffs by three points in a tough division and a tough Western Conference. I hope I can come in here and provide offense for a team that’s lacking that a little bit. Things are going in the right direction with coaching and things are changing. We’ve got a great leader in our captain and we’re just getting better every year.

On whether he relishes the chance to be the team’s premiere goal scorer…

Yes, that’s the player I want to be and the player I want to become. When playing in Pittsburgh I played behind some top names so it was a little bit tougher to be that guy. But to have the opportunity to be a leader and be that go-to-guy is something I always wanted to be. I feel like I’m at that stage in my game and can take that responsibility. I’m excited for that challenge; it’s going to be fun.

On being traded in the offseason opposed to during the season…

I think it is better this way because I get to set up in Nashville, find a place to live and start fresh. When you get traded during the year things happen so fast that you have to leave your teammates quick and I think that’s a little harder to adjust to.

On being a player with edge and grit…

As a young guy going into the league I wanted to be a power forward and I wanted to be a goal scorer. I wanted to bring a physical side to my game. I don’t want to be just a pure goal scorer; I want to be able to do everything. You need that if you want to win in the playoffs. You need a physical edge and I think that my game fits the style of play in the West just fine. I think it’s exciting to just be a part of that.

On how Predators Head Coach Peter Laviolette will help his game…

He’s an offensive coach, I saw that first hand when I played against Philadelphia. He’s an unbelievable coach that took that team and made them even better. He’s going to be a great fit for me and for Nashville.

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