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Trade Travel Troubles

Wednesday, 02.23.2011 / 1:08 PM / Features
By Tony Jovenitti
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Trade Travel Troubles
For James Neal, Matt Niskanen and the Penguins, the past three days have been slightly chaotic.

Monday was full of surprises for the Penguins’ two newest additions. Late in the afternoon, a trade was announced sending Neal and Niskanen to Pittsburgh from Dallas in exchange for Alex Goligoski.

The two new Penguins boarded a plane in Dallas and expected to arrive in Pittsburgh late Monday night and join the team for practice Tuesday morning. But another surprise derailed those plans.

On Monday afternoon, an unsuspecting Pittsburgh was hit with a massive snowfall in a span of a few hours.

RELATED: Neal Adds Power, Skill to Penguins >>

“The airport shut down here so we flew into Newark and got an early flight out (Tuesday),” Neal said.

“I think we were flying around, waiting and hoping they’d open up the airport, but they said we had to divert to Newark,” Niskanen said. “So we spent the night there. They still delayed the plane another hour (Tuesday morning), so we didn’t get to make it to practice.”

Head coach Dan Bylsma joked that he hoped they “didn’t think they got traded to the Devils.” Ironically, the Devils were on the road Tuesday night – facing the Dallas Stars.

“We want them here,” Bylsma said on Tuesday. “And they wanted to try and get in a car and get here so they could be here for practice (Tuesday), but it just wasn’t plausible with the weather.”

Neal and Niskanen finally arrived in Pittsburgh late Tuesday afternoon. They went straight to CONSOL Energy Center where they quickly got a physical and had a shortened practice with Bylsma and assistant coach Todd Reirden.

RELATED: Neal and Niskanen Join the Penguins Photo Gallery >>

They were both glad to finally arrive in the Steel City.

“We’re happy to be here now,” Niskanen said.

“It was a couple long days, but it’s good to be here, and I’m really happy,” Neal said.

Thankfully, Neal and Niskanen were traveling together, so they had plenty of time to discuss their new situation during the delays.

“We talked a lot about the players here,” Niskanen said. “There are just a lot of questions. We were wondering what it was going to be like and trying to figure out what to expect. We were talking about what we were going to do for places, restaurants to eat – there were a million things going through our heads.”

Now that all of the travel stress is behind them, Neal and Niskanen will simply focus on Wednesday night’s game. Luckily, it’s against a familiar foe for them, Dallas’ division rival, San Jose.

RELATED: Niskanen Ready to Contribute to Pens' Blue Line >>

“I gave the tips up on the Sharks because we’ve seen them a lot,” Neal said.

But just because the chaos and stress of their travels are over, doesn’t mean the excitement has died down.

“It’s an exciting time right now, and we’re looking forward to get going,” Neal said.
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