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Bench Talk / Off The Wire

A Deacade + Later


By Fred Wallace


Hi, this is Fred Wallace with " Off the Wire ".

The official retirement of Flesherton's Chris Neil from the National Hockey League last week sparked a number of memories.

First, Neil, who played more than 1,000 games for the Ottawa Senators, rose above one and all who told him at various stages in the 1990's  that he was " too young ", " too small ", " not skilled enough " or " not bright enough " to play the game.

It seemed every early stride he took confronted an obstacle.

Chris Neil isn't going into the Hockey Hall of Fame, but if there was a Hall for perseverance, he'd certainly be inducted.

And secondly, Neil's retirement reminded me of a great Canadiana moment.

On Saturday June 2nd, 2007, Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Anaheim Ducks and the Senators was being staged in Ottawa.

With a new baby, a first child, newly arrived that day, Chris Neil scored the game tying goal for Ottawa as the Senators would go on to win the game 5-3 and shave the Ducks series lead to 2-1.

I didn't see the goal by Chris Neil, I was working. At Hanover Raceway.

And when the 3rd race concluded that night, I remember going trackside on a terrific June Hanover early Saturday night and announcing to the grandstand that Neil had scored in the Stanley Cup Final to tie Game 3.

The roar from the crowd wasn't the loudest I've ever heard at Hanover Raceway over the course of 15 years, but on that particular night, the response to Flesherton's Chris Neil scoring in a Stanley Cup Final was the loudest of the evening.

I'm Fred Wallace

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