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NHL official says Neal won't be suspended

| Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, 11:39 a.m.

An NHL official told the Tribune-Review on Saturday that right wing James Neal will not be suspended despite receiving a third penalty for embellishment this season.

The rule that covers the possibility of embellishment leading to suspensions, Rule 64.3, is intended to cover incidents prompted by calls to players from Hockey Operations.

Although Neal has been in trouble with Hockey Operations this season — he was suspended for five games in December for kneeing Boston's Brad Marchand in the head — he never has received a call from the Director of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan regarding the embellishing penalties.

Had Neal received a warning call from Shanahan after one of the embellishing penalties — he was given the penalties in games against Edmonton, Phoenix and the Rangers this season — he would have been a candidate for a fine or suspension.

However, the league confirmed that Neal, who is vacationing in Mexico during the Olympic break, is not a candidate for an automatic fine or suspension.

3 forwards sent to AHL

The Penguins sent three players to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to receive extra work during the Olympic break.

Forwards Brian Gibbons, Jayson Megna and Harry Zolnierczyk — who have provided sparks in recent weeks — will play in the AHL during the break.

The Penguins don't play again until Feb. 27 against Montreal.

Zolnierczyk must clear waivers to play in Wilkes-Barre. NHL teams have until noon to claim the former Flyers forward. Gibbons and Megna do not have to clear waivers.

Gibbons (four goals), Megna (four goals) and Zolnierczyk (two goals) have provided the Penguins with speed.

Although he isn't considered the long-term answer on the top line, Gibbons has acquitted himself well on Sidney Crosby's right wing. Megna and Zolnierczyk primarily have played in the bottom six.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton will play eight games during the Olympic break.

Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jyohe@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.

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