Sometimes all a player in sports needs is something to motivate them. When this happens, many times these players step up their games to a higher level. We all know the story about how Tiger Woods had a poster of Jack Nicklaus in his room and thought to himself every day that he was going to break Jack’s major championship record. Tiger is getting close because of that motivation.
If this is the case, then Pittsburgh Penguins winger James Neal should hang a poster of Team Canada’s Olympic hockey team above his bed and think about how he was snubbed by his country in 2014.
On Tuesday, Team Canada revealed the team that they are going to take to Sochi, Russia for this year’s Winter Olympic Games. They revealed that two Penguins would be on the team: Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz. Both of these players deserved the nod, because they help give Team Canada their best chance of winning. However, Canada would have had a better chance of winning if they added Neal.
Neal is one of the best pure goal-scorers in the NHL, yet he was snubbed by Steve Yzerman and Mike Babcock.
Neal was snubbed for players like Rick Nash, who only has 18 points all season long. Nash did not play very well on Crosby’s line in Vancouver in 2010, and he still is not playing all that well in 2014 yet he still made the team. Steven Stamkos will be coming off of a broken leg and will be asked to play in the biggest tournament of his career. I understand why Yzerman did not want to upset a star that plays for his Tampa Bay Lightning, a team that he is the GM for, but wouldn’t you want someone who has been absolutely on fire right now and not someone who will be just getting off of the IR?
I understand that Team Canada has many talented players to choose from and not everyone can make the team. I know that players like Eric Staal and Martin St. Louis also did not make the team. All I am simply saying is that this decision will hurt Team Canada.
I also believe that while it will hurt Team Canada, it will only make the Penguins a better hockey team down the final stretch of the regular season. This break will allow Neal to rest up and be ready for the remainder of the season. It will also motivate Neal to prove to Yzerman, Babcock, Canada and the rest of the NHL that he is a better player than some of the guys that made this team.
Watch out Eastern Conference goalies. Team Canada just re-energized James Neal, and you are going to feel his wrath! Have fun.