Chris Neil

Last updated

Chris Neil
Chris Neil 2013-05-19.JPG
Neil during the 2013 playoffs
Born (1979-06-18) June 18, 1979 (age 39)
Flesherton, Ontario, [1] [2] Canada
Height 6 ft 1 in (185 cm)
Weight 208 lb (94 kg; 14 st 12 lb)
Position Right Wing
Shot Right
Played for Ottawa Senators
NHL Draft 161st overall, 1998
Ottawa Senators
Playing career 20002017

Chris Neil (born June 18, 1979) is a Canadian former professional ice hockey right winger. Neil was originally drafted in the sixth round, 161st overall, in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft by the Ottawa Senators, and played his entire NHL career with the Senators organization.

Canadians citizens of Canada

Canadians are people identified with the country of Canada. This connection may be residential, legal, historical or cultural. For most Canadians, several of these connections exist and are collectively the source of their being Canadian.

Ice hockey team sport played on ice using sticks, skates, and a puck

Ice hockey is a contact team sport played on ice, usually in a rink, in which two teams of skaters use their sticks to shoot a vulcanized rubber puck into their opponent's net to score points. The sport is known to be fast-paced and physical, with teams usually consisting of six players each: one goaltender, and five players who skate up and down the ice trying to take the puck and score a goal against the opposing team.

Winger, in the game of ice hockey, is a forward position of a player whose primary zone of play on the ice is along the outer playing area. They typically work by flanking the centre forward. Originally the name was given to forward players who went up and down the sides of the rink. Nowadays, there are different types of wingers in the game — out-and-out goal scorers, checkers who disrupt the opponents, and forwards who work along the boards and in the corners. They tend to be bigger than centreman and smaller than defenseman.


Playing career


Neil started out playing minor hockey in the town of Flesherton, Ontario. He later played for the Grey-Bruce Highlanders of the South-Central Triple A Hockey League before getting his junior start with the Junior "B" Orangeville Crushers.

South-Central Triple A Hockey League

The South Central Triple A Hockey League is a minor level ice hockey league based out of Ontario. The league is one of two AAA leagues associated with the Ontario Minor Hockey Association and has a total of 10 teams. The South Central Triple A League playoffs are played in tournament style. The top two teams advance to the OMHA Championships.

Junior hockey is ice hockey competition generally for players between 16 and 21 years of age. Junior hockey leagues in the United States and Canada are considered amateur and operate within regions of each country.

Orangeville Crushers

The Orangeville Crushers were a Canadian Junior "A" ice hockey team from Orangeville, Ontario. They played in the Ontario Junior Hockey League, Midwestern Junior B Hockey League, and Mid-Ontario Junior C Hockey League.

He then played three successful major junior seasons with the Ontario Hockey League (OHL)'s North Bay Centennials. In his final junior season in North Bay, Neil had a career year and gave an indication that he could be more than merely a physical presence, amassing 72 points in 66 games.

Ontario Hockey League sports league

The Ontario Hockey League (OHL) is one of the three major junior ice hockey leagues which constitute the Canadian Hockey League. The league is for players aged 16–21. There are currently 20 teams in the OHL; seventeen in Ontario, two in Michigan, and one in Pennsylvania.

North Bay Centennials

The North Bay Centennials were a junior ice hockey team in the Ontario Hockey League, who played from 1982–2002. The team was based in North Bay, Ontario.


Neil was drafted by the Senators in the sixth round, 161st overall, of the 1998 NHL Entry Draft. Ottawa management prized his toughness and work ethic and saw Neil as a player who would potentially fill a much needed role on the team for years to come. Neil spent two seasons with Ottawa's then-American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, where he posted back-to-back seasons of 300+ penalty minutes and established himself as a solid team player at the professional level.

1998 NHL Entry Draft

The 1998 NHL Entry Draft was held on June 27 at the Marine Midland Arena in Buffalo, New York. A total of 258 players were drafted.

American Hockey League ice hockey league in the United States

The American Hockey League (AHL) is a professional ice hockey league based in the United States and Canada that serves as the primary developmental league for the National Hockey League (NHL). Since the 2010–11 season, every team in the league has an affiliation agreement with one NHL team. When NHL teams do not have an AHL affiliate, players are assigned to AHL teams affiliated with other NHL teams. Twenty-seven AHL teams are located in the United States and the remaining four are in Canada. The league offices are located in Springfield, Massachusetts, and its current president is David Andrews.

Grand Rapids Griffins ice hockey team

The Grand Rapids Griffins are a professional hockey team in the American Hockey League (AHL). They play in Grand Rapids, Michigan at Van Andel Arena. They are the AHL affiliate to the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League, and are the 2013 and 2017 Calder Cup Champions.

Leading up to the 2001–02 season, Neil had a strong training camp and made the Ottawa line-up. He made his NHL debut on October 3, 2001, against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The next night, he recorded his first NHL point in a game against the Montreal Canadiens. On October 30, he scored his first NHL goal, against the Atlanta Thrashers. In his rookie season, Neil appeared in 72 games and scored 17 points, while accumulating 231 penalty minutes and establishing himself as a fearless combatant.

The 2001–02 NHL season was the 85th regular season of the National Hockey League. Thirty teams each played 82 games. The Stanley Cup winners were the Detroit Red Wings, who won the best of seven series 4–1 against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Toronto Maple Leafs Canadian professional ice hockey team

The Toronto Maple Leafs are a professional ice hockey team based in Toronto, Ontario. They are members of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). The club is owned by Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, Ltd. and are represented by Chairman Larry Tanenbaum. With an estimated value of US $1.45 billion in 2018 according to Forbes, the Maple Leafs are the second most valuable franchise in the NHL, after the New York Rangers. The Maple Leafs' broadcasting rights are split between BCE Inc. and Rogers Communications. For their first 14 seasons, the club played their home games at the Mutual Street Arena, before moving to Maple Leaf Gardens in 1931. The Maple Leafs moved to their present home, Scotiabank Arena in February 1999.

Montreal Canadiens National Hockey League team in Montreal, Quebec, Canada

The Montreal Canadiens are a professional ice hockey team based in Montreal, Quebec. They are members of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL).

During the 2002–03 season, Neil had ten points in 68 games and led the Senators with 147 penalty minutes. The next year, he again led the Senators in penalty minutes, with 194.

The 2002–03 NHL season was the 86th regular season of the National Hockey League. The Stanley Cup winners were the New Jersey Devils, who won the best of seven series 4–3 against the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

The 2003–04 NHL season was the 87th regular season of the National Hockey League. The Stanley Cup champions were the Tampa Bay Lightning, who won the best of seven series four games to three against the Calgary Flames.

The 2005–06 season saw Neil's role with the Senators expand. When Brian McGrattan made the Ottawa line-up out of training camp, much of the responsibilities as "team enforcer" were lifted off Neil's shoulders, and he was given the opportunity to contribute in a more offensive role. He responded, and posted the best offensive totals of his NHL career with 16 goals and 33 points. The following season, Neil posted similar numbers with 12 goals and 28 points while leading the NHL in hits. The coaching staff rewarded him with special teams assignments, and he received regular power play shifts.

Neil with the Senators in 2010. Chris Neil.png
Neil with the Senators in 2010.

As the 2007–08 season unfolded, Brian McGrattan saw very limited ice time, and Neil was once again called upon to act as the Senators' enforcer and primary physical presence on many nights. As a result, his offensive production declined, though he did finish the season with a respectable 20 points.

Neil had a disappointing 2008–09 season, registering only ten points, his lowest total since his rookie season, and the Senators missed the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time during his tenure in Ottawa. After the season, Neil became an unrestricted free agent, and there was speculation that he would sign elsewhere. Instead, however, he signed a four-year, $8 million contract with the Senators. Neil reportedly received offers from three other clubs, but ended up accepting less money to remain in Ottawa. [3]

The 2011–12 season was a good one for both Neil and the Senators. During the regular season, Neil registered 13 goals and 28 points in 72 games, his best offensive totals since 2006–07. Picked by many analysts to finish at or near the bottom of the standings, the Senators made the 2012 playoffs and came within one game of upsetting the first-seeded New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. In the series, Neil knocked forward Brian Boyle out of the series with a hit in Game 5 that inflicted a concussion on the player. After the season, after enforcers Matt Carkner and Zenon Konopka departed Ottawa via free agency, the Senators subsequently re-signed Neil to a three-year contract worth $5.75 million. [4]

During the 2012–13 NHL lock-out, Neil elected not to play in Europe, as several of his teammates did, and instead remained in Ottawa and practised with the Carleton Ravens, who were coached by his ex-Senators teammate Shaun Van Allen. [5]

Acknowledging his leadership role with the organization, the Senators named Neil an alternate captain on September 14, 2013. He scored his 100th career regular season NHL goal on January 23, 2014, against Ben Bishop of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

As the 2014–15 season unfolded, Neil was hampered by a hamstring injury that kept him out of the line-up for several games, and he recorded just four goals and seven points in his first 38 games. [6] As the team slipped out of the 2015 playoff picture, General Manager Bryan Murray approached Neil to gauge his willingness to accept a trade to a contending team; Neil indicated that he would prefer to stay in Ottawa, though trade rumours persisted [7] and he saw his role diminish under new Head Coach Dave Cameron. As many as ten teams reportedly contacted Murray to inquire about Neil's availability as the NHL trade deadline approached. [8] On February 14, 2015, the trade rumours were quieted as Neil suffered a fractured thumb in a fight with Edmonton Oilers winger Luke Gazdic, and the Senators subsequently announced that he would be out of the Ottawa line-up indefinitely as a result. [9]

On February 28, 2016, Neil signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract extension with the Senators to return for the 2016-17 season. [10] Neil played in his 1000th NHL game on December 10, 2016, against the Los Angeles Kings in Los Angeles. Neil was then honored with a pregame ceremony prior to the Senators' December 14 home game against the San Jose Sharks. [11]

In June 2017 it was announced that Neil and the Senators mutually separated due to Neil being displeased with his limited role under head coach Guy Boucher, allowing Neil to become an unrestricted free agent for the 2017-18 season. [12]

On December 14, 2017, Neil announced his retirement from professional hockey. [13]

Personal life

Before Neil was married, he and fellow Senator Mike Fisher were roommates. The pair remained close friends to this day, and are both devout Christians. [14] On June 1, 2007, Neil and his wife, Caitlin, celebrated the birth of their first child named Hailey Jean, weighing 6 lbs. and 10 ounces. In the next game, he scored a goal that he dedicated to her.

Neil counts Denis Savard as his favourite player growing up. He lists four-wheeling, boating and horseback riding as his favourite hobbies.

On July 14, 2011, Neil and his wife Caitlin were introduced as the new honorary chairs of Rogers House, an Ottawa pediatric hospice. [15] [16]

Career statistics

Regular season Playoffs
Season TeamLeagueGP G A Pts PIM GPGAPtsPIM
1995–96 Orangeville Crushers MWJBHL 4315153050
1996–97 North Bay Centennials OHL 65131629150
1997–98 North Bay CentennialsOHL59262955231
1998–99 North Bay CentennialsOHL66264672215410115
1998–99 Muskegon Fury UHL 111201813461
1999–00 Mobile Mysticks ECHL 402239
1999–00 Grand Rapids Griffins IHL 5191019301802224
2000–01Grand Rapids GriffinsIHL781521363541022422
2001–02 Ottawa Senators NHL 72107172311200012
2002–03 Ottawa SenatorsNHL6864101471510124
2003–04 Ottawa SenatorsNHL828816194701119
2004–05 Durham Thundercats WOAA 10110
2004–05 Binghamton Senators AHL 224610132611226
2005–06 Ottawa SenatorsNHL7916173320441016
2006–07 Ottawa SenatorsNHL821216281772022420
2007–08 Ottawa SenatorsNHL6861420199401122
2008–09 Ottawa SenatorsNHL603710146
2009–10 Ottawa SenatorsNHL68101222175631420
2010–11 Ottawa SenatorsNHL8061016210
2011–12 Ottawa SenatorsNHL72131528178721322
2012–13 Ottawa SenatorsNHL4848121441004439
2013–14 Ottawa SenatorsNHL768614211
2014–15 Ottawa SenatorsNHL384377820000
2015–16 Ottawa SenatorsNHL805813165
2016–17 Ottawa SenatorsNHL5313463200012
NHL totals102611213825025229591019204

See also

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  1. "Chris Neil profile at". Archived from the original on December 23, 2008. Retrieved December 30, 2008.
  2. "Chris Neil profile at". Retrieved December 30, 2008.
  3. Chris Neil Takes Less Money to Stay in Ottawa,, retrieved on October 1, 2009.
  4. "Neil a Senator for three more years". . July 10, 2012. Retrieved July 10, 2012.
  5. "Ottawa Senators' Chris Neil takes high road over anti-NHLPA comments by Washington Capitals' Roman Hamrlik". . December 12, 2012. Retrieved December 12, 2012.
  6. "Chris Neil Player Profile". The Hockey News . April 5, 2015. Retrieved April 5, 2015.
  7. "Neil wants to stay with Senators, for now". Ottawa Sun . February 13, 2015. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
  8. "Countdown to the deadline: Senators". ESPN . February 13, 2015. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
  9. "Chris Neil injured in fight, out indefinitely". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation . February 14, 2015. Retrieved February 14, 2015.
  10. "Chris Neil signs contract extension with Senators". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation . February 28, 2016. Retrieved February 28, 2016.
  11. "Senators' forward Neil celebrates 1000th NHL game". National Hockey League . December 10, 2016. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
  12. Garrioch, Bruce (June 14, 2017). "Chris Neil and the Senators head their separate ways". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved October 9, 2017.
  14. A place for Chris Neil to find serenity
  15. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 4, 2015. Retrieved February 4, 2015.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  16. Tears of a tough guy