Chris Nilan: One of the Toughest Enforcers of the Montreal Canadiens and the NHL

Daniel ArouchianSenior Analyst IDecember 29, 2008

Born on February 9th, 1958, in Boston, MA, Chris Nilan wasn't known for his stick handling or his soft hands.

Nicknamed “Knuckles,” Nilan was drafted 231st overall by the Montreal Canadiens in the 1978 NHL Entry Draft. He spent most of the season in the minors before joining the Canadiens to play 15 games in the 1979-1980 season.

His role on the team was simple. He was the enforcer, protector of his teammates. All were grateful for having Nilan on the team.

He holds the record in penalty minutes for the Habs with 2248 in the regular season and 422 minutes in the playoffs.

He was traded to the New York Rangers on January 27, 1988, and then traded to the Boston Bruins on June 28, 1990.

March 31, 1991, was another memorable night for Chris Nilan. Over the course of the game, he managed to receive 10 penalties: six minors, two majors, one misconduct, and one game misconduct, for a total of 42 penalty minutes.

He holds the record for highest penalty minute average per game at 4.42 minutes per game. He's also one of only nine players in the NHL history to have recorded more than 3,000 career penalty minutes.

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In the 1991-92 season, the Bruins put Nilan on waivers at the end of the season. The Habs claimed him, and he played the last 17 games on the schedule. He played 10 seasons with the Canadiens, earning a Stanley Cup in 1986.

He played in 523 games, scored 88 goals, and collected 87 assists, good for 175 points during the regular season. He played in 84 playoffs games, registering five goals and five assists for a total of 13 points.


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