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Chris Neil (born June 18, 1979 in Fleshertonmarker, Ontariomarker) is a Canadianmarker professional hockey player, playing right wing for the Ottawa Senators of the National Hockey League. He is generally regarded as an enforcer, though in recent seasons he has developed into a more complete player.

Playing career

Early years

Neil started out playing minor hockey in the town of Flesherton, Ontariomarker. 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, scoring 72 points in 66 games.

NHL career

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 Binghamton, 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, he 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, Chris 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.

During the 2002–03 season, Chris had 10 points in 68 games and lead the Senators with 147 penalty minutes. The next year, Chris again led the Senators with 194 penalty minutes.

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 inked a new 4-year contract with the Senators worth $8 million.

Personal

  • Before Neil was married, he and teammate Mike Fisher were roommates. The pair remain best friends to this day, and are both devout Christians.
  • Wife's name is Caitlin.
  • On June 1, 2007, at 11:05 p.m., 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 favorite player growing up.
  • Off the ice, Neil lists four-wheeling, boating, and horseback riding as his favorite hobbies.


Career statistics

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1995–96 Orangeville Crushers MWJBHL 43 15 15 30 50
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
1998–99 Muskegon Fury UHL 1 1 1 2 0 18 1 3 4 61
1999–00 Mobile Mysticks ECHL 4 0 2 2 39
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
2001–02 Ottawa Senators NHL 72 10 7 17 231 12 0 0 0 12
2002–03 Ottawa Senators NHL 68 6 4 10 147 15 1 0 1 24
2003–04 Ottawa Senators NHL 82 8 8 16 194 7 0 1 1 19
2004–05 Durham Thundercats WOAA 1 0 1 1 0
2004–05 Binghamton Senators AHL 22 4 6 10 132 6 1 1 2 26
2005–06 Ottawa Senators NHL 79 16 17 33 204 4 1 0 1 6
2006–07 Ottawa Senators NHL 82 12 16 28 177 20 2 2 4 20
2007–08 Ottawa Senators NHL 68 6 14 20 199 4 0 1 1 22
2008–09 Ottawa Senators NHL 60 3 7 10 146
NHL totals 511 61 73 134 1298 68 4 4 8 111


References



See also

External links




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