The Afternoon Shift – Nov. 23

First, an apology for the technical difficulties that have sidelined The Afternoon Shift since last Thursday, and a thank you to WordPress for getting the problem resolved. Now, on with the show.

Chris Neil/Photo by Getty Images

When Chris Neil arrived in Grand Rapids in 1999 as a shy but bruising rookie right wing, he immediately stole the hearts of Griffins fans with his penchant for the dirty work and the proficiency of his fists.

In full two seasons with the club, he totaled 55 points (24-31–55), 655 penalty minutes and a plus-26 rating in 129 games. He still stands fourth on the Griffins’ all-time penalty minute list, and his 354 PIM from the 2000-01 campaign rank as the third-highest single-season total in franchise history.

Now, a decade later, the Ottawa Senator has celebrated his 600th regular season game in the NHL, a milestone he reached last night against Los Angeles. Only five players in history have logged more games with the Senators.

Neil owns a special place among the Griffins’ 111 NHL alumni. Of the 53 players who played in Grand Rapids before making their NHL debut, no one has appeared in more NHL games than the Flesherton, Ontario, native. Since playing his first game with the Senators on Oct. 3, 2001, he has accumulated 160 points (72-88–160) and become the franchise’s all-time leader with 1,539 PIM.

We’re proud to say we knew him when. Congratulations, Chris!

Coincidentally, Neil and three other Griffins greats – Pavol Demitra, Jimmy Howard and Niklas Kronwall – are featured on four 16-foot tall “From Grand Rapids to the NHL” banner wraps that were installed by Fast Signs today on columns on the northeast concourse of Van Andel Arena. Look for them when you come to the Griffins games this Friday and Sunday.

Today’s Griffins links:

AHL/opponent links: 

Alumni news and notes:

Video – NHL alumni goals:

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