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New Episodes at CBC Music

New Episodes at CBC Music

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Guest Chris Nilan

You don’t have to know a lot about hockey to know what it is to be drafted 231st out of 234 players. It means you’re a long shot. A very long shot. Chris Nilan wasn’t the biggest or the fastest when the Montreal Canadiens took a chance on him back in 1978, but he was willing to work hard and within two years he was skating for the big club. Not bad for an Irish kid from Boston. With the Habs Nilan — by then "Knuckles" Nilan — played the role of the enforcer, fighting his way to the fifth-most penalty minutes in NHL history (in one game he was sent to the box 10 times). Off the ice, life was no less colourful. He married the daughter of the girlfriend of now-imprisoned mob boss, Whitey Bulger. After his career was over, Nilan’s hockey-related pain led to a dangerous addiction to painkillers and several years of ups and (mostly) downs that culminated in getting sober and the release of a new memoir, Fighting Back.

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