Yes, Chris Neil is a fighter, but he’s been more than that to the Ottawa Senators and his fans.
Let’s get the rough stuff out of the way first.
He has 1784 penalty minutes, all with the Senators.
He has averaged more than two penalty minutes per game every single season. This year, at his current rate, will be his lowest at 2.15 penalty minutes per game.
He has finished in the top 10 in league-wide penalty minutes every single season of his career.
His 1784 career penalty minutes is the second most by any current NHL, only 15 behind Sean O’Donnell. So safe to say, he should be #1 at the end of the season.
All-time, he has almost three times the amount of penalty minutes than the nearest Senator (want to guess who is second? Chris Phillips).
Some interesting trivia about Chris Neil and fighting (according to hockeyfights.com):
- Neil has been in 126 regular season fights in the NHL
- He has fought times more against the Boston Bruins (16) than any other opponent
- There are only four teams he hasn’t fought against: The Sens (obviously), Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks
- He has fought against 84 different opponents
- He has fought against Eric Boulton more times than any one else (5)
- His first regular season fight was against Gino Odjick (then with the Montreal Canadiens)
Despite the record number of the penalty minutes, Neil is more than a tough guy. He ranks 12th all-time in goals scored, 15th in assists and 13th in points.
He has scored 10 or more goals in a season four times (including a career high 16 goals in the 2005-06 season). He has also had four 20 points seasons, with 33 being his career high (again in the 05-06 season). That year, he also scored eight powerplay goals.
Since the NHL lockout, Neil is only of only three players to have managed to get more than 15 goals and 200 penalty minutes in the one season.
He’s also the heart and soul of this team. He protects his teammates, motivates the bench, and can be responsible for swinging a game’s momentum in numerous ways.