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Chris Nilan

Chris Nilan
Born (1958-02-09) February 9, 1958
Boston, MA, USA
Height 6 ft 0 in (183 cm)
Weight 205 lb (93 kg; 14 st 9 lb)
Position Right Wing
Shot Right
Played for Montreal Canadiens
New York Rangers
Boston Bruins
NHL Draft 231st overall, 1978
Montreal Canadiens
Playing career 1979–1992

Christopher John Nilan (born February 9, 1958) is a retired professional ice hockey player and current radio host. Nilan played 688 National Hockey League (NHL) regular season games as a right-wing for the Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, and New York Rangers between 1980 and 1992. He won the Stanley Cup in 1986 with Montreal. Known as "Knuckles," he was famous for his propensity to fight. Nilan's life and career are prominently featured in Alex Gibney's 2011 documentary film The Last Gladiators.


  • Playing career 1
  • Post career 2
  • Awards 3
  • Career statistics 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Playing career

Nilan grew up in Massachusetts where he idolized Bobby Orr and dreamed of playing for the Boston Bruins. He played his youth hockey with the Parkway (West Roxbury, Massachusetts) team of the Greater Boston Youth Hockey League (GBYHL), sponsored by the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC). He later played college hockey for the Northeastern University Huskies, from 1976 to 1979, averaging 3.5 penalty minutes per game in his final collegiate season.

Nilan was selected 231st overall in the 1978 NHL Entry Draft, and was best known as a tough-guy for the Montreal Canadiens in the mid 1980s. One of only nine players in National Hockey League (NHL) history to have recorded more than 3,000 career penalty minutes, he holds the records of highest penalty minute average per game at 4.42 minutes per game, as well as the record for most penalties in a single game. March 31, 1991, when the Hartford Whalers visited Boston, Nilan was assessed a record ten penalties; six minors, two majors, one misconduct and one game misconduct, for a total of 42 penalty minutes.[1]

Seriously hobbled by repeated injuries, Nilan missed over two hundred games in his final five seasons, and retired after the 1992 season. Highlights of his career include winning the Stanley Cup in 1986 with the Canadiens, being named to Team USA for the 1987 Canada Cup, and his controversial selection to the 1991 NHL All-Star Game by his then-coach Mike Milbury (Nilan missed the game with a broken left ankle), which led to changes in how players are selected for all-star games.

Post career

Nilan returned to the Boston area and went into the insurance business after retirement. He spent three years as community relations consultant for John Hancock Insurance before returning to hockey as a coach. He was initially hired as an assistant coach of the New Jersey Devils on August 3, 1995, and remained in that position until May 1996, before becoming a head coach for the Chesapeake Icebreakers of the ECHL.

In 2009, Nilan was arrested in Braintree, Massachusetts for shoplifting after attempting to leave a Lord & Taylor store wearing a pair of Tommy Bahama swim shorts underneath the shorts he wore in. Nilan struggled with store security before police officers managed to subdue him. "I just wanted to save a few bucks," he told police.[2] The case was dismissed with Nilan being ordered to pay $100 in court costs.

Nilan was married to Karen Stanley in 1981. They were divorced in 2006. They have two daughters, Colleen and Tara, and one son, Christopher. Karen was a daughter of Theresa Stanley, who was one of notorious crime boss Whitey Bulger's girlfriends.

Today Nilan talks openly about his past problems with alcohol and prescription drugs, as well as battling a heroin addiction. He is involved in numerous social and charitable causes. Nilan also speaks to local students in Montreal about learning from his life experiences and mistakes.

Nilan lived in Oregon for two years, and most recently, moved back to Montreal.

He began hosting his own program, Off the Cuff on TSN Radio 690 Montreal, on March 18, 2013, after being a daily phone-in guest on Melnick in the Afternoon for a number of months. He is on the air from noon to 3:00 p.m. weekdays local time, also streaming live on the internet.


Career statistics

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1979–80 Montreal Canadiens NHL 15 0 2 2 50 5 0 0 0 2
1980–81 Montreal Canadiens NHL 57 7 8 15 262 2 0 0 0 0
1981–82 Montreal Canadiens NHL 49 7 4 11 204 5 1 1 2 22
1982–83 Montreal Canadiens NHL 66 6 8 14 213 3 0 0 0 5
1983–84 Montreal Canadiens NHL 76 16 10 26 338 15 1 0 1 81
1984–85 Montreal Canadiens NHL 77 21 16 37 358 12 2 1 3 81
1985–86 Montreal Canadiens NHL 72 19 15 34 274 18 1 2 3 141
1986–87 Montreal Canadiens NHL 44 4 16 20 266 17 3 0 3 75
1987–88 Montreal Canadiens NHL 50 7 5 12 209
1987–88 New York Rangers NHL 22 3 5 8 96
1988–89 New York Rangers NHL 38 7 7 14 177 4 0 1 1 38
1989–90 New York Rangers NHL 25 1 2 3 59 4 0 1 1 19
1990–91 Boston Bruins NHL 41 6 9 15 277 19 0 2 2 62
1991–92 Boston Bruins NHL 39 5 5 10 186
1991–92 Montreal Canadiens NHL 17 1 3 4 74 7 0 1 1 15
NHL totals 688 110 115 225 3043 111 8 9 17 541

See also


  1. ^ "NHL - Single game records". Retrieved 4 June 2012. 
  2. ^

External links

  • Official website
  • Radio host at TSN Radio 690 Montreal
  • Chris Nilan's profile
  • Chris Nilan's biography at Legends of Hockey
  • Chris Nilan's career statistics at The Internet Hockey Database
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