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.