In the wake of their stunning playoff collapse, the Penguins have been the subject of many trade rumors and on Friday, one of them took to social media to deny the whispers.
James Neal, the subject of “reports” claiming he demanded a trade out of Pittsburgh, addressed the rumblings via Twitter:
All of these rumors couldn’t be further from the truth. I love being a Pittsburgh Penguin. I hope to remain a Penguin and win as a Penguin.
— James Neal (@jneal_18) May 23, 2014
It’s unclear exactly where the rumors started, but many have pointed to this from Pittsburgh radio host Mark Madden:
4the record: A highly-placed source said, off the record, @jneal_18 asked4 a trade. Neal, on the record, said he did not.
— Mark Madden (@MarkMaddenX) May 23, 2014
Neal, 26, scored 27 goals and 61 points in 59 games this season, missing extensive time to suspension and injury. He had a postseason to forget, scoring just four points in 13 games, and came under fire repeatedly throughout the year for his disciplinary issues — a five-game ban for kneeing Brad Marchand in the head, and a $5,000 fine for cross-checking Detroit’s Luke Glendening.
Despite the discipline problems, Neal remains an elite-level talent. A former 40-goal scorer that made the NHL’s first All-Star team in 2012, Neal signed a six-year, $30 million extension with the Penguins two years ago (with a modified no-trade clause, it should be mentioned) and has been one of the league’s better goalscoring wingers over the last three seasons.
One would think that, given his talent level and Pittsburgh’s seeming need to “shake things up,” Neal could be a legitimate candidate to be moved this offseason. But if it happens, it won’t be because he asked out.
Assuming you believe everything you read on social media, that is.