He’s scored at least 21 goals in each of his first seven NHL seasons, but Nashville Predators forward James Neal is dishing out a couple of assists before the 2015-16 campaign begins, both in Middle Tennessee and back home in Canada.
A native of Whitby, Ontario, Neal was in his hometown on Tuesday to join the Smilezone Foundation, an organization co-founded by former NHLer Adam Graves, whose mission is to create and improve spaces in children’s hospitals and clinics to improve the lives of children facing illness, disabilities and obstacles.
Neal took part in a presentation for the adolescent program of Grandview Children’s Centre, located at the Abilities Centre in Whitby, a place where people of all ages and abilities can participate in sports, fitness, arts and life skills programming.
The Preds forward, a supporter of Smilezone Foundation and Grandview Kids, joined Grandview Kid Sam Keane and his family for the presentation of Grandview’s newly refurbished treatment space for adolescents at the Abilities Centre, courtesy of the Smilezone Foundation.
Upon returning to Nashville, Neal will be back on the ice for training camp, but not before he hosts area youth hockey players in the James Neal Clinic, benefiting Make-A-Wish of Middle Tennessee on Saturday, Sept. 12 from 3-6 p.m. at Ford Ice Center in Antioch, Tenn.
Players ages 7-14 are invited to participate, and for a $118 registration fee to benefit Make-A-Wish, participants will receive on and off-ice instruction with Neal, two tickets to a Preds 2015-16 preseason contest and a meet-and-greet session with No. 18, among other perks.
“I love Nashville and playing for the Predators and want to give back to the city as much as I can,” Neal said. “Make-A-Wish is a great organization with an important mission and the decision to help raise money to support them, while also helping kids learn more about hockey, was an easy one for me.”
Neal, who is one of just seven current NHL players to record at least 20 goals in each of his first seven (or more) campaign, enters the 2015-16 season ranked fourth in the NHL in power-play goals (41) and tied for 10th in goals (111) since the start of the 2011-12 season.
For more information on Neal’s charitable endeavors, visit the Smilezone Foundation or the James Neal Clinic.