Preds’ Neal is looking forward to ‘amazing’ All-Star experience

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The only reason James Neal was invited to the All-Star game was because ‘Hawks captain Jonathan Toews (illness) pulled out on Thursday.

Neal had previously booked a vacation, but he jumped on the opportunity to take part in the festivities, especially because the event is being held in the city he plays in.

“To be a part of this weekend is going to be amazing,” said Neal, per NHL.com.

“Nashville is such a great place to live and a great place to play,” he said. “I love being a part of this team and this organization. Having my family and everybody in town, I’m just going to enjoy it and have fun with it. It’s a great weekend and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

The 28-year-old might not be having his best season, but he’s still on pace to score 30 goals in 2015-16. This is his second appearance in the All-Star game.

When it comes to non-traditional hockey markets like Nashville, having more players from your local team can only be seen as a positive.

Neal’s teammates Shea Weber, Roman Josi and Pekka Rinne are also taking part in All-Star weekend.