Monday, December 14, 2009

Nilan battles off-ice demons

SPOTLIGHT 'I'm a drug addict and an alcoholic,' former Canadiens enforcer says in tearful admission
RED FISHER, The Gazette
Published: Thursday, December 10, 2009

In his 10 seasons with the Canadiens, Chris Nilan was among the toughest, most feared and most penalized players in the National Hockey League. He played to inflict pain, to intimidate.

You can find his name in the team's media guide in the list of all-time records: Nilan: 2,248 penalty minutes. Nilan: most penalty minutes in a season: 358.

There was nothing complicated about his game plan: hit first, hit hard, and he was well-schooled in it.

They were lessons he learned growing up on what was then the mean and unforgiving streets in West Roxbury, where Boston's Irish ruled with their fists, and woe to anyone of another religion or colour who dared to walk there.

Once, he was the darling of Canadiens fans because he wore the CH on his heart. Doors in Montreal and elsewhere were open to him. Life was good, but that was then, this is now - and it's not a pretty picture.

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