Neal: 'When you don’t win, change is needed' - 06-30-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

The last time the Penguins made a major trade during the NHL draft, they traded forward Jordan Staal the day of his wedding in 2012.

During this past weekend's draft, James Neal found out he was traded a day prior to the wedding of former teammate Matt Niskanen.

Earlier today, Neal, now a member of the Nashville Predators held a conference call with media and talked about the trade, his time in Pittsburgh, his history of discipline and his future with the Predators.

Here are the highlights of the call:

(Note: Much of the call was interrupted by audio feedback and could not be transcribed.)

Opening statement:

"I’d 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. And now a new chapter in my career. I couldn’t be more excited to be with the Nashville Predators and get things going."

On being traded:

"Anytime you’re traded, it always comes as a shock. I think even if you knew you were going to get traded, it comes as a shock. To be welcomed into Nashville by so many people and so many fans and to come in to be a top guy and take on a lot of responsibility in Nashville, it’s something I’m looking forward to and something I’m excited for. It’s a crazy time but a real exciting time. I’m real excited to get into Nashville and get ready for a great season."

On the Predators having offensive woes last season:

"That’s part of why I came into Nashville. You look what Nashville did last year in playing over 50 games without their best player in our goaltender Pekka Rinne. Our defense is unbelievable and so is [captain/defenseman] Shea Weber. Obviously things are changing here. We’re going to be a more offensive team. I talked to coach [Peter] Laviolette. Nothing but a bright future ahead. That’s something I’m looking forward to. I’ve need to step up and be a top guy in this game and be a leader. I’m excited for that challenge."

On Laviolette’s style of play:

I like it a lot. It sounds very exciting. Winning puck battles. … It’s going to be big changes and I get to be a part of that.

On his suspensions:

"Your emotion gets the better of you. Obviously, there were things that have happened in my game that you regret. I have to change and be better for it. I've changed as a player, I've grown as a player. I'm still young, I have a very long way to go. Mistakes happen and I'm going to be better for it and move forward and not let that stuff happen again. I have to concentrate on being a leader on this team and taking my game to the next level."

On potentially helping the Predators recruit potential free agents:

“We've started that, obviously it started with me, and with myself coming here. Hopefully guys will want to come to Nashville. Like I’ve said, we have great goaltending, great defense and now we're starting to build our offense to be a more powerful team. That's a great start.”

On being back in the Western Conference:

"The West, I know a lot about the West coming up with Dallas. It’s tough. There’s a lot of great teams. My time in Pittsburgh and in the East helped me grow as a player. I’m thankful for that. It’s exciting to be back in the West."

On the Penguins coming up short in the playoffs in recent seasons:

"I think anytime when you’re surrounded like [Sidney] Crosby, [Evgeni] Malkin and [Kris] Letang you have those expectations to win. … It’s hard to put your finger on why you didn’t succeed. When you don’t win, change is needed and that’s why things are changing in that organization."

What do you see with the Predators?

"You see a team that missed the playoffs by three points in the tough Western Conference. They missed it by three points without their best player in Pekka. So everything is there, and I hope I can come in here and supply offense for a team that was lacking a little bit of offense. Things are changing and things are changing for the best. We have a great leader and a captain (Shea Weber), and we're just getting better."

Last time you were traded, it was midseason. How different is it being traded during the offseason?

"I think it’s better to go in and get to set up in Nashville. Find a place to live in. … When you get traded during the year, it happens so fast. You have to leave your teammates quick. Everything is a little hard to adjust to."

(Photos: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)


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