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2013 Line Combos
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01-10-2013, 01:40 PM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Originally Posted by
I think back to my statement "Neil should be written in on the 4th line in permanent ink" from over 10 years ago and marvel at how he's developed as a player and a person.
That and my skepticism regarding Karlsson's pace of development are probably two of my more glaring misconceptions on HF.
I would qualify your statement about Neil to state that he seems to have a terrific sense of when he has to step up in a game. Games where the offensive corps just aren't getting it done, so he gets a dirty goal or delivers some big hits or a fight to turn things around.
Some games, he plays it pretty steady, other games, he comes up big and becomes a gamebreaker, his work ethic relentless.
I've seen elements of this in Zack Smith, I'm hoping he has the stamina (re: Condra) to maintain it over an entire season.
He'll learn from Neil that you can't go gangbusters every game.
My worry about Neil is that he'll have to fight heavyweights again with Carkner gone, but that should be a bit of a measured concern because Carkner didn't play all that many games over the regular season last year.
I really realized how effective Carkner and moreso Neil were as fighters having Konopka. Konopka would just fight whenever... whoever. He often hurt the team. I was not a fan.. but he did come up huge in the playoffs so I will keep Konopka in fine historical Sens memories.
But Neil... especially... totally knows when to pick his spots. He gets in a fight or plays a massive shift hitting everything that moves at EXACTLY the right times. He picks up the team. He never takes a stupid fight. EVER. Every fight is carefully timed to pick up the Senators.. change momentum. Konopka would fight when it was the other teams time to change the momentum!!!! Plus Neil can actually play and has skill.
I like you talking about Zack Smith... I saw a HUGE change in him not taking nearly as many dumb penalties last year and being so much smarter. I think and hope he continues to learn from Neil. Neil is like a top echlon pest, a top echlon hitter and a top echlon fighter. And he can score a dozen goals too. Even play on the PP in front of the net at times.
I LOVE Maclean. Neil is totally his type of guy. I wish I could remember Maclean's playing days because I assume and imagine he played the game in a similar way... with some more goal scoring accumen.
I won't mind if they keep Neil around forever... even after a decline. He is soooo smart about what he does.... even as an eventual 4 minutes a game guy in a half dozen years he will be so effective in the small spots he gets. I KNOW it!
Neil, I always liked... but in the last little while I get it. I get it... how unreplaceable and unique he is. How much he is the heart of the team. When Alfie goes... he won't be the Captain... but he will be THE HEART of this team. As great as the other leaders are.... they are not Neil. He is like a pyscholigical genius. He can read the emotion and momentum of a game like no one else.
He is no superstar.... no star even... but I predict and think we should and will retire his number when he is done here. Like Daneyko in New Jersey. You don't need to be a superstar to get your number retired.... you bleed for the team and play your important role perfectly... for 15+ years.... you get your number retired.
Neil is unreplaceable. He is so valuable and unique just for his mere presence. He has helped the team win more games then it is possible to imagine a 10 goal 20 point player could be responsible for. In hindsight... while Kelly and Fisher were better players... and key members and relentless members of this franchise. I know why it was Neil that stayed. It is funny that on HFboards so much salary crap was debated for these three players.... it is clear to me that all 3 were worth at the time and now every cent they got. Kelly, Fisher, Neil... 3 amazing characters that help a team win. We kept Neil. We kept the most important member of the trio for this rebuild. The sad but necessary purging of the core of this winning franchise... we lost Kelly and Fisher. But no way we lose Neil.
Anyway... I am just repeating myself. You look at the ALL-TIME fighting greats... the enforcers... the fighters... ALL-Time.... Neil looks favourably on most in value to a team. He is a light heavyweight... but he has fought most everyone at some time or another. And he usually wins... and even in draws... he comes out lifting his arms to the crowd and appears to win to the fans and his teammates. Even when he loses it seems to lift his team. In rating the overall usefulness of guys that fight a lot all-time he is up there. He is or has become one of the best fighters ever to pick his spots for the most ultimate value. To pick his roughing penalties for their most ultimate pest and intimidation value. I mean he is an ultimate pest and a fighter and he NEVER has even been suspended once. Despite some questionable hits... he manages to not EVER get suspended.
He is the ACTIVE penalty minute leader in the NHL 1861 minutes. #1! PIMs often hurt a team.... we measure tough guys in PIMs though. Many PIMs are earned coincidentally though and don't result in PPs against. I will venture to say with Neil... since he became a vet for many, many seasons.... virtually none of those PIMs hurt our team. None were reckless or selfish or spent in frustration or anger.... every one was purposeful... and even planned. Neil is mercrucial. He is a master of pyschology in hockey. Every act he commits is for the point... the longer point of it. And some tough guys have this effect... Neil is a MASTER of it... A pest.. and an enforcer... I have gradually come to realize that Neil is like the master of this play. A near all-time master. One of the best at this EVER in the history of hockey. Not the best fighter or the best enforcer... but one of the best EVER.... like EVER at this game of perfectly controlled and managed aggression and even violence. Neil can FEEL the momentum of a game. a period, a shift and act to push it in his teams favour... on a continuous basis... for years and years. And he has some skill and can play.
And repeating myself again... Maclean.. just gets it... he totally understands Neil... like COMPLETELY gets him. Even as Neil's abilities decline he now has a coach able to maximize him and totally get him. I think a lot of it just comes natural. I don't think Neil is sitting there on the bench planning it.. he might a bit.. but he FEELS it. Maclean gets him sooooo much. We are so fortunate to have this weapon of mass pyscological impact... who gets to play 8-12 minutes a night.
I finally get the immense value of Chris Neil. Not that I did not like him before but now it is clear to me he is a HUGE factor for this franchise. HUGE.
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