Hockey Gods



Uploaded By: PRESIDENT on October 21st, 2015

James Anthony "Chief" Neilson - Born November 28, 1941 in Big River, Saskatchewan - Died November 6, 2020 in Winnipeg, Manitoba was a Canadian Indigenous (Cree) ice Hockey defenceman.

Neilson was a mix of Danish and Cree and grew up in the St. Patrick’s Orphanage / Residential School where he was educated and played Hockey. He excelled for three years with the Prince Albert Mintos of the SJHL where he registered consecutive 20-goal seasons in 1960 and 1961. The New York Rangers prospect enjoyed a solid first pro season in the EPHL with the Kitchener-Waterloo Beavers in 1961-62.

Neilson made his NHL debut with Rangers on October 11, 1962 vs Detroit Red Wings in a 2-1 Detroit win at Madison Square Garden.

Neilson scored his 1st NHL goal vs Eddie Johnston of the Boston Bruins on November 22, 1962 at 18:15 of the 3rd period at Boston Garden in a 7-1 Rangers win.

Neilson looked solid as a rookie paired with Doug Harvey in 1962-63 and became a fixture on the New York defence for a dozen seasons. In 1967-68 he played superior defence and scored 35 points. "Chief" scored a career-high ten goals and 44 points the next year then helped the Blueshirts become one of the league's elite clubs. In 1968-69, he was paired with rookie Brad Park and was credited with making a huge difference in the youngster's game.

The only down side for Neilson during this period was a serious knee injury in February 1970, which prevented him from making sharp turns the rest of his career. Beginning in 1970-71 the Rangers recorded three straight 100-point seasons and reached the Stanley Cup finals in 1972. They also reached the semi-finals in 1973 before rebuilding in mid-decade.

In June 1974, the Rangers left the veteran blueliner unprotected at the Intra-League Draft. Neilson was claimed by the weak California Golden Seals and he became a stabilizing influence on the club playing mostly with youngster Rick Hampton. He played two years on the West Coast and remained with the franchise during its two-year stay in Cleveland. Neilson retired in 1979 after playing a year in the WHA with Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers.

Neilson played 1,024 NHL regular season games, scoring 69 goals, 299 assists and 65 NHL playoff games, scoring 1 goal, 17 assists.

Neilson played in the NHL All-Star Games in 1967, and 1971.

In 2009, Neilson was ranked No. 42 on the all-time list of New York Rangers in the book 100 Ranger Greats (John Wiley & Sons).

Jim Neilson was inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame in 2018.

Sourced from


No comments have been made yet.


Please login to comment. Click here to sign up. It's quick, easy and free!