Chris Neil has called it a career. He announced his retirement in a press conference at the Canadian Tire Centre this morning.
Neil was a deep Ottawa pick - 6th round, 161st overall in the 1998 draft. He made the team in the 01-02 season and went on to play in 1,026 regular season games and 95 playoff games for the Sens in his 15 season career. During the course of those games, he put up 112 goals and 138 assists in the regular season and another nine goals and 10 assists in the playoffs. Possibly the most memorable goal was the one that got Ottawa on the board in game 3 against the Ducks in 2007 - the day after the birth of his first child.
That’s decent, but we all know his scoring isn’t his call to fame.
2650 hits in the regular season. 743 penalties, 178 of them majors. No other player has come close to this in a Senators uniform, and it puts him at 4th in the league for career hits, 20th in penalty minutes, 35th in penalties taken and 21st in major penalties.
He’s the franchise leader in all of those stats for the playoffs as well, with 208 hits, 69 penalties, 204 penalty minutes and 6 majors. Helps to be third in playoff games played, too.
Oh yeah - all of that and zero suspensions. He knew how to walk that fine line, even when the line moved.
It wasn’t just his physical presence on the ice that made him a fan favourite for so long, it was also what he did off the ice. The most well known is he and his wife Caitlin acting as honorary chairs of Rogers House, a role they plan to continue with in his retirement. Caitlin also serves on the Board of Directors for the Sens Foundation, and they have both been involved with many, many other causes and community events over the years. They have woven themselves into the fabric of the city.
You won’t have to wait too long to see Neiler again. He’ll be participating in the Sens Alumni game tomorrow evening.