One of hockey's most feared enforcers reveals his off-ice battle with alcohol and heroin. With a foreword by Serge Savard.
Chris Nilan, who grew up in the blue-collar Irish neighbourhood of West Roxbury in Boston, was an intimidating player for the Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins and the New York Rangers, and a Stanley Cup champion never afraid to go into the corners or take off his gloves. He was a valued teammate whose very presence on the ice affected the way the game was played. As a Montreal Canadien, the 231st overall pick in the 1978 draft played a key role on a team that featured all-time Hab greats Guy Lafleur, Guy Carbonneau and Larry Robinson, among many others. Always a colourful character, Nilan was married for many years to the daughter of the long-time girlfriend of Whitey Bulger, among the most notorious, ruthless and murderous gangsters in American history. Almost all of his fellow Habs attended the wedding.
As an enforcer and as a teammate, Nilan ranks among the greatest of all time. When the cheering stopped, however, he did not do well. The same qualities-his aggressiveness and high-emotion style-that proved so valuable on the ice did not benefit him when his career ended. He turned to drugs and alcohol to dull his pain, and he nearly died from a heroin overdose.
Nilan's story is a fascinating and troubling expose of the booze and drugs that destroy so many athletes after their time in the limelight is over. But it's also a story of triumph, as Nilan has become the victor in the fight against his demons. Fighting Back is a riveting, no-holds-barred look at a hard life, on the ice and off.