Ottawa Senators Greatest Players: Number – 11 Chris Neil

SUNRISE, FL - JANUARY 31: Chris Neil
SUNRISE, FL - JANUARY 31: Chris Neil /

Today we shift to the last player outside the top 10 greatest players in Ottawa Senators history. One of the most popular players to ever lace up for the nation’s capital. A player to only recently finish his tenure with the Sens, Chris Neil.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Neil is not just how long he stayed with the Ottawa Senators, but how long he stayed in the league in the first place. Neil was never an offensive juggernaut by any means. After all he peaked at just 16 goals and 33 points. However, that was never his job. Neil was an enforcer, someone who was supposed to give a mental edge to the team, and he did it phenomenally. In an era where enforcers are slowly phased out of the game, Neil endured. In fact he did more than endure, he thrived, with 1026 games in the NHL, all with the Ottawa Senators, he had a longer career than many players who might be closer to the all-star variety.

The Beginning

Neil first came to the Ottawa Senators as a late round draft pick in 1998. Drafted incredibly late in the draft it would have been a success for him to simply make the NHL, even for a few games. However, Neil not only made the NHL, he had one of the best careers for enforcer in history.

After making the team for the first time in the 2001-2002 NHL season, Chris Neil was a constant presence for the Sens. Finishing up his final season in Ottawa just a few months ago, he ends a 15 season career with the Sens.

Building A Legacy

Neil was never a scorer but after playing the 3rd most games in Sens history he accumulated a total of 250 points, well enough for 13th all-time. However, what Neil was known for was being a great teammate. Even at the end of his final season where he didn’t see much game action, he was a positive presence.

Next: Ottawa Senators Greatest Players: Number 12 – Patrick Lalime

The Heart Of The Team

Only brought in for two games in the playoffs, he played a crucial role in defeating the New York Rangers. He may have played less than five minutes in those two games but in that time he did what he was brought in to do. The Rangers had one two games in a row and tied the series at 2-2. Tanner Glass had been a nuisance for the Sens and was getting away with bullying the team. Neil took a penalty to shut down Glass and in the process shifted the momentum in the Series back towards the Ottawa Senators. The Sens would go on to win the next two games and the series.

Chris Neil was the heart of the Ottawa Senators for 15 seasons. His departure marks the end of an era. No more players remain from the 2003 Presidents’ Trophy win or the 2007 Stanley Cup Final run. Even if Neil chooses to continue his career with another team this season, he will always be an Ottawa Senator.