Forward James Neal isn’t playing for any NHL team at the moment, but that did not stop him from taking a shot worthy of a penalty on Wednesday.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are putting together many tribute videos ahead of tonight’s celebrations for star forward Evgeni Malkin, who will be honoured in Pittsburgh for playing 1000 NHL games. Geno suited up for his 1000th game on Sunday, becoming the 11th player to reach the milestone with the Penguins. Malkin went to score in the contest, notching his eighth tally of the season on the way to a 5-3 win.
On Wednesday, the Penguins will honour Malkin in front of the home fans and former and current teammates shared messages to Geno in special videos ahead of the game.
Neal was one of the former teammates asked to send Malkin a message and found a way to insult him in it, by calling him lazy…
It’s probably a joke, but Neal doesn’t even flinch when he tells Geno that he is lazy. He could have made it more obvious if he was simply kidding...
That’s kind of ironic seeing that Neal is the one without a contract at the moment. The veteran forward was released from his professional tryout offer earlier this season, which meant no NHL contract would be coming from the Columbus Blue Jackets. You genuinely have to wonder where the former 40 goal scorer will go from here.
Neal also appeared bitter during training camp when he basically blamed the Calgary Flames for his on-ice struggles. As he was eunited with former Flames teammate Johnny Gaudreau for a short time in Columbus, Neal was asked about playing with Gaudreau in the past and when Jody Shelley and Bob McElligott on The Fan 97.1 wondered if they ever played on the same line, Neal was quick to throw the Canadian team under the bus.
“Calgary was kind of the death of me when I went there. I was on the fourth line just trucking away. It’s been a battle since then.”
The struggle has continued as Neal split 2021–22 between the NHL and AHL in the St. Louis Blues organization, though he did help the farm club get to the Calder Cup Final against the Chicago Wolves. He remains unsigned this season.
He could be bitter about it all and unfortunately it shows in this message to Malkin…