Tuesday 12 March 2013

Chris Nilan to host afternoon show on TSN 690

An announcement was made today that former Montreal Canadiens enforcer Chris "Knuckles" Nilan will succeed Randy Tieman as the co-host of the Montreal Forum with Tony Marinaro weekdays from Noon to 1 p.m. and the host of his own program from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on TSN 690 Radio. He will debut on March 18.
Chris Nilan

Two years ago I sat down with Nilan at a downtown hotel. He was in town for an alumni event and shared with me his desire to move here full-time and pursue a career in broadcasting. Earlier that NHL season, CJAD had given him a role on their broadcasts. By this time, Mitch Melnick had made Nilan a regular on his drive home show on  TSN 690 (then called THE TEAM 990).

I invited Chris to a high school, reasoning that as an enforcer he had basically stuck up for his teammates and basically taken care of bullies. I would like to think this played an inspirational role in him becoming a well known anti-bullying advocate. For the past two years he has been a fixture in local elementary and high schools. In the meantime Melnick found a regular slot for Nilan on his show. This year he became part of the Canadiens broadcast team, with his In The Box segment. After some hard times, Nilan has really turned his life around. This opportunity to have his own radio show represents perhaps the completion of the mission he set out for when I met with him two years ago.

Tony Marinaro

Nilan and his girlfriend bought a home in Dorval. He continues to play for the alumni team and played a central role in the much talked about documentary The Last Gladiators.  In the film, Academy Award winning Director Alex Gibney takes an unprecedented look at NHL's most feared enforcers and explores the career o Nilan. The role was simple: protect their teammates no matter the cost. For Chris this meant a shattered body, addiction to drugs, and harming the people closest to him. But in the process, he won the love of hockey’s holy city, Montreal, and helped the team win the Stanley Cup. Through interviews with hockey’s toughest guys, the film explores what it means to enforce the unspoken code of the NHL The DVD is now available and I plan to sit down with Chris soon to talk about it.

In the meantime, to all of those fans out there who loved watching Chris Nilan (he remains my brother Chuck's all-time idol), what wonderful news this is. Now all we need to see happen is for the CRTC to approve the proposal by Bell Media to keep TSN 690 in operation if and when the three local English Astral Radio stations (CJAD, Virgin Radio and CHOM) come under their watch.

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