James Neal, a substitute captain for the Vegas Golden Knights, has played pucks in the back of the net since childhood. He is a Canadian professional hockey player. Before he was called to the National Hockey League by the Dallas Stars, he played for the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League.
He also played four seasons for the Pittsburgh Penguins, after spending a year playing for the American’s Hockey League farm team, the Iowa Stars, and then three seasons for the Nashville Predators and now plays for the Golden Knights.
James is known as a natural scorer, and on October 6, 2017, he scored the first two goals for the Golden Knights at their franchise debut.
He was born on September 3, 1987, in Whitby, Ontario, Canada, as the oldest of five children (four boys and one girl) of her parents Peter and Deborah Neal. His family has hockey in their veins and is overly obsessed with the sport. It came as no surprise when he was drafted into the NHL. Neal’s boys are a credit to their parents for bringing them up properly and setting them on the path they are currently on. His younger brothers Michael, Peter, and Nicholas all play hockey, a sport they were all in love with, and played together during their childhood. They have a sister named Rebecca. James was coached by his father for the early stages of his insignificant hockey career.
He attended All Saints Catholic Secondary School in Whitby, Ontario, where he earned the nickname Whitby Wizard, probably because of his poor performance on the ice rink.
James Neal – Contract, Stats
He spent his minor career days with the Whitby Wildcats of the Ontario Minor Hockey Association’s (OMHA) Eastern AAA League before being drafted into the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) in the 3rd round in 2003, which was followed by a successful rookie season in the OHL, which saw him finish 80th overall from the Plymouth Whalers. After a successful rookie season in the OHL, he was selected by the Dallas Stars in the second round, 33rd overall in the 2005 NHL rookie draft.
Although he was drafted into the NHL, he returned to his junior team, the Whalers, for two consecutive seasons. There he impressed the team with his outstanding performances and was eventually signed on a 3-year contract at entry-level. He continued to prove his worth and helped the Whalers win their first and only J. Ross Robertson Cup as OHL Champion in the 2006/07 season. He was also selected as 1st Team OHL All-Star, which was a trademark of his junior career.
In the 2007/08 season, he turned pro and played for the Iowa Stars, a subsidiary of the American Hockey League (AHL) in Dallas. The following season he made his NHL debut with the Stars, scoring his first NHL career goal in his first game in October 2008 against Columbus Blue Jackets. Two months later, he scored his first NHL hat-trick in a match against the Toronto Maple Leafs on 23 December 2008 in an 8-2 win.
With an extraordinary record, including breaking the Stars’ team record for goals scored by a rookie with 24 goals and 37 points, James signed a two-year contract extension with the Stars just before the start of the 2010-2011 season. On 21 February 2011, however, he switched from the Dallas Stars to the Pittsburgh Penguins and signed a six-year extension the following year. The contract extension came one day after he had scored 30 goals for the first time in his career.
In June 2014 he was rejoined by the Nashville Predators during the NHL Entry Draft 2014. There he was appointed substitute captain and lived up to his form. In June 2017, James Neal was selected as an unprotected Predators player by the league’s newest team, the Vegas Golden Knights, after three seasons with the Predators. He helped the Golden Knights win their franchise debut with a 2-1 win over the Dallas Stars.
On the international front, James has also proven that he is a force to be reckoned with on the ice. He was part of Team Canada at the 2007 World Junior Championships in Sweden, where they won a gold medal. He also joined the Canadian men’s team at the IHF World Championships in Switzerland and Slovakia in 2009 and 2011 respectively. As he is familiar with victories, he helped his nation win a silver medal in the 2009 tournament.
From 2003 to 2007, during his OHL career, he had a total of 173 points with 68 goals and 105 assists, and his AHL career includes 22 goals, 20 assists, and 42 points. In his NHL career, however, he has played 703 matches and scored 263 goals with 232 assists, for a total of 495 points.
James Neal’s Wife, Girlfriend
The hockey star is in a relationship with Melanie Collins, a TV presenter and sports broadcaster who is currently the face of Yahoo!, co-presenter of the big break on the Golf Channel, as well as featured on CBS. She was born February 6, 1988, at State College, Pennsylvania. Before James, Melanie dated another NHL player, Scottie Upshall, from 2009 to 2013. In March 2014, she began dating James Neal.
James had his breakout season 2011-2012, in which he scored 40 goals and 40 assists.
He was in an episode of NHL 36, which followed him for 36 hours in March 2012.
He helped the Plymouth Whalers win their first and only J. Ross Robertson Cup as OHL Champion.
The Golden Knights’ replacement captain played on November 23, 2015, in the 500th NHL game of his career.
Between 2008 and 2017 he scored over 20 goals in each of his 9 NHL seasons.
He has a large body frame of 6’2″ and a bodyweight of 221 lbs.
His position is either on the right or left-wing where he shoots to the left with jersey number 18.
He entered the hockey league with a toothless smile after losing a few teeth in a match against Colorado Avalanche in October 2017. The defeat came after he took a high stick from Patrik Nemeth in the first period.
James Neal missed a wide-open net in a game against Washington Capitals on 4 June 2018 that fans thought was incredible.