June 18, 1979 |
Flesherton, ON, CAN
|Height||6 ft 1 in (185 cm)|
|Weight||220 lb (100 kg; 15 st 10 lb)|
|NHL team||Ottawa Senators|
|NHL Draft||161st overall, 1998
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 hockey start with the Junior "B" Orangeville Crushers. He played three successful junior seasons with the 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.
Chris Neil was drafted by the Ottawa Senators in the 6th 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 AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids, racking up back to back seasons of 300+ penalty minutes and establishing himself as a solid team player at the pro level.
Leading up to the 2001–02 season, Neil had a strong training camp and made the Ottawa lineup. He made his NHL debut on October 3, 2001, against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The next night, he got his first NHL point in a game against the Montreal Canadiens. On October 30, 2001, he scored his first 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 2005–06 season saw Neil's role with the Senators expand. When Brian McGrattan made the Ottawa lineup 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 powerplay shifts.
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 10 points, his lowest total since his rookie season, and the Senators missed the 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, 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.
The 2011-12 season was a good one for 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 playoffs and came within one game of upsetting the first seeded New York Rangers in the first round. Neil knocked forward Brian Boyle (concussion) out of the series with a hit in Game 5. After the season, enforcers Matt Carkner and Zenon Konopka departed Ottawa via free agency. Needing his toughness in the lineup, the Senators subsequently re-signed Neil to a three-year contract worth $5.75 million.
During the 2012 NHL Lockout, Neil elected not to play in Europe as several of his teammates had. Instead, he remained in Ottawa and practiced with the Carleton Ravens, who were coached by his ex-Senators' teammate Shaun Van Allen.
As the 2014-15 season unfolded, Neil was hampered by a hamstring injury that kept him out of the lineup for several games, and he recorded only 4 goals and 7 points in his first 38 games. As the team slipped out of the playoff picture, GM Bryan Murray approached Neil to gauge his willingness to accept a trade to a contending team. Neil indicated that he'd prefer to stay in Ottawa, though trade rumours persisted as 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. 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 lineup indefinitely as a result.
Before Neil was married, he and teammate Mike Fisher were roommates. The pair remain close to this day, and are both devout Christians. 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 an important goal which 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.
|1996–97||North Bay Centennials||OHL||65||13||16||29||150||—||—||—||—||—|
|1997–98||North Bay Centennials||OHL||59||26||29||55||231||—||—||—||—||—|
|1998–99||North Bay Centennials||OHL||66||26||46||72||215||4||1||0||1||15|
|1999–00||Grand Rapids Griffins||IHL||51||9||10||19||301||8||0||2||2||24|
|2000–01||Grand Rapids Griffins||IHL||78||15||21||36||354||10||2||2||4||22|
- List of Ottawa Senators players
- List of NHL players with 2000 career penalty minutes
- Enforcer (ice hockey)
- "Chris Neil profile at sportsnet.ca". sportsnet.ca. Retrieved 2008-12-30.
- "Chris Neil profile at hockeydb.com". hockeydb.com. Retrieved 2008-12-30.
- Chris Neil Takes Less Money to Stay in Ottawa, TSN.ca, retrieved on October 1, 2009.
- Neil a Senator for three more years http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Hockey/NHL/Ottawa/2012/07/10/19972351-qmi.html
- Ottawa Senators' Chris Neil takes high road over anti-NHLPA comments by Washington Capitals' Roman Hamrlik http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Hockey/NHL/Ottawa/2012/12/12/20427996.html
- THN Chris Neil Player Profile http://forecaster.thehockeynews.com/hockeynews/hockey/player.php?1585
- Neil wants to stay with Senators, for now http://www.ottawasun.com/2015/02/04/neil-wants-to-stay-with-senators-for-now
- Countdown to the deadline: Senators http://espn.go.com/nhl/story/_/id/12320675/nhl-ottawa-senators-options-march-2-trade-deadline
- Chris Neil injured in fight, out indefinitely http://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/nhl/chris-neil-injured-in-fight-out-indefinitely-1.2957967
- http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Columnists/Garrioch/2009/05/17/9485996-sun.html A place for Chris Neil to find serenity
- http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Hockey/NHL/Ottawa/2011/07/13/18416931-qmi.html Tears of a tough guy