OTTAWA - Ottawa Senators (@Senators) forward Chris Neil today announced his retirement from the National Hockey League. A former sixth-round pick of the Senators in 1998, Neil played his entire 16-year NHL career in Ottawa, playing in 1,026 games (third most in team history). He also established the Senators all-time career penalty minutes mark with 2,522, while making a significant impact on the Ottawa community.
Senators fans will have the opportunity to acknowledge Neil's retirement and his contributions to both the team and the city at Canadian Tire Centre during the game on Thursday, Jan. 25, when Ottawa hosts division rival the Boston Bruins.
"Chris Neil exemplifies the best qualities of both our city and the Senators franchise," said Senators owner Eugene Melnyk. "His career personified grit, drive and resilience; there was never a day that he was not there for his teammates. Chris earned everything he achieved in the league through his hard work and dedication to the game and he will go down in history as one of the great character players to ever wear the Senators jersey."
A native of Flesherton, Ont., Neil is one of only three players (Alfredsson, Phillips) in Senators' history to dress in 1,000 games for the club. He concludes his career 20th on the NHL's all-time penalty minutes list and as one of only two players in NHL history (Ken Daneyko) to compile over 1,000 games and 2,500 penalty minutes while playing the entirety of his career for a single franchise.
"Not only does Chris' on-ice efforts leave him as an all-time great, but his dedication to the community - particularly his work at Roger Neilson House - leaves him with a legacy that has truly impacted the people of Ottawa and will for years to come."
Neil made his debut with the Senators in 2001 as a 22-year-old and went on to play 15 seasons in a Senators uniform, scoring 112 goals and 138 assists for 250 points in 1,026 career regular season games. He also played in 95 playoff games, including all 20 games in the run to the Stanley Cup final in 2006-07. Last season, Neil's career was highlighted when he became only the 46th player in league history to skate in 1,000 games for one team on Dec. 10, 2016, at Los Angeles.
For all of his accolades on the ice, Chris, along with his wife Caitlin, made an even bigger impact on the local Ottawa community. On July 13, 2011, they were named as honorary co-chairs of Roger Neilson House, a pediatric palliative care centre facility. Through the strength of initiatives such as Returns for Roger Nielson House, Walk, Roll & Run and the Ottawa Senators Foundation Telethon, they have helped to raise thousands of dollars as ambassadors for the centre since arriving in Ottawa in 2001.
Chris has become a fixture and pillar in the local community and he and his wife have spent countless hours lending their voice and support by attending and hosting charitable and media events for dozens of philanthropic organizations in the community including the Ottawa Senators Foundation. They were recognized for their contributions to Canada when they received the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.
In addition, the Senators are pleased to announce that Chris will lace up his skates for at least one more game in a Senators' uniform when he takes to the ice this Friday for the Senators Alumni Classic on Parliament Hill.
Chris Neil career profile
- Drafted 161st overall by the Senators in the 1998 NHL Draft
- Played his first NHL game on Oct. 3, 2001 at Toronto
- Recorded his first NHL point (an assist) on Oct. 4, 2001 vs. Montreal
- Scored his first NHL goal on Oct. 30, 2001 at Atlanta
- Became the 26th player in NHL history to reach 2,400 penalty minutes on Jan. 22 vs. N.Y. Islanders
- Neil was named alternate captain for the Senators on prior to the 2013-14 season, a title he kept for the remainder of his playing career
- Chris and his wife Caitlin reside in Ottawa with their three children: Hailey, Cole and Finn
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