Chris Nilan

Christopher John Nilan, originally from West Roxbury, Massachusetts, earned every minute of the 688 NHL regular season games he played patrolling the right-wing for the Montreal Canadians, Boston Bruins and New York Rangers. Fiercely loyal to his teammates and his club, he racked up over 3,000 penalty minutes during his pro career. Chris learned one important lesson early on: whatever happens, never back down, never stay down.

Nilan was always considered a long-shot to make the NHL, but was selected 231st overall, out of 234, by the Canadians in the 17th round of the 1978 NHL Amateur Entry Draft. Chris knew how to take care of his teammates and showed that he was willing to fight for his team. Beginning in the 1980-81 season, Nilan became a regular in the Canadian’s line-up for the next 8 seasons. From there he was traded to New York in 1987, where he played for 2 years before joining the Boston Bruins from 1990-1991. He rejoined the Montreal Canadians to play his final season before retiring as a Hab in 1992.

The fans in Montreal loved Chris because he was known to have the CH stamped on his heart. He was an enforcer, the team’s protector, did the dirty work in the trenches, and he could score. Nilan scored a career-high 21 goals with the Canadians in 1984-85 and he scored 19 more the following season when the Canadians won their 23rd Stanley Cup in 1986.

Like so many others from the era, Chris has had his challenges since leaving the game. He’s been knocked down more than a few times, but true to form he hasn’t stayed down. Chris moved back to Montreal in August 2011 and feels like he’s finally “back home.” He has been doing radio with TSN690, hosting his own radio show Monday-Friday from 1-3pm EST called “Off the Cuff.” He has found his true passion and calling, however, in public speaking.

In addition to corporate motivational and leadership speaking, he also shares his personal battles with drugs and alcohol and started a “No More Bullies” campaign in the schools in 2012, speaking at well over 100 different schools around Canada. Chris supports The Kids Help Phone by donating a portion of the proceeds from the sales of his personal apparel line, The Knuckles Brand, and has a long-standing relationship with the Montreal Children’s Hospital (where he has started the Chris Nilan Children’s Fund.) Since moving to Montreal, he has become very involved with a number of other charities including The Shield of Athena, (Home for battered women and children) and The Action Center (a unique facility for Montreal’s severely handicapped citizens.)

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