Penguins’ Crosby OK with Neal comments about trade
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Sidney Crosby likes James Neal and considers him a friend. The two got together Friday night in Nashville.
Perhaps that’s why Crosby said he wasn’t troubled by Neal’s comments to the Tribune-Review on Thursday when the Predators right wing said he felt “blindsided” by his offseason trade from Pittsburgh and was not pleased with general manager Jim Rutherford and coach Mike Johnston for never speaking with him beforehand.
“It’s a tough situation,” Crosby said. “I don’t necessarily think (Rutherford and Johnston) had spoken with each person at that point. (Neal) felt like he wanted to talk with somebody. It’s never easy. But it’s tough to say because I don’t think everyone on the team had talked with (Rutherford and Johnston) either. It might have hurt him a little more had everyone else spoken with them.”
Although Neal developed a reputation for being abrasive with the media during his four seasons with the Penguins, he generally was liked by teammates.
Crosby and Neal, both 27, became friends during their time together in Pittsburgh.
The Penguins captain admitted it was difficult to see Neal traded.
“We spent a lot of time together,” Crosby said. “Like any teammate, it’s not easy to see someone get traded. We were a similar age, spent time together.”
Other Penguins are aware of Neal’s unhappiness with the situation. None, however, was critical of the Penguins’ approach.
“It’s really not my business,” right wing Craig Adams said. “When you get traded, it’s never a fun thing. It can leave a bitter taste in your mouth. There’s really no good way for that to go.”
Neal has scored five goals this season.
Predators general manager David Poile declined to say whether former general manager Ray Shero gave him a scouting report on Neal. But Poile is delighted with what he has witnessed. He traded forwards Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling in return for Neal, the only 40-goal scorer at wing for the Penguins during the Crosby era.
“I can tell you this,” Poile said. “James Neal has fit in really well with us so far. We are getting exactly what we wanted out of this trade.”
The Penguins are pleased with their return. Hornqvist has recorded four goals on Crosby’s line, and Spaling has been a two-way presence.
“I think Pittsburgh got exactly what it wanted, too,” Poile said. “It is one of those classic deals that is going to be a good deal for both teams.”