It doesn’t come as a huge surprise, mainly because he mentioned it himself in passing in a Los Angeles Times story published in January, but former Canadiens enforcer Chris (Knuckles) Nilan will be taking over the early afternoon slot on TSN Radio 690 that was vacated by Randy Tieman in December.
The announcement was made just after 4:30pm Tuesday, though it came out through Mike Cohen’s blog shortly before that.
Nilan, 55, has been a regular contributor on TSN 690 the past little while as an analyst. He played in the NHL from 1979 to 1992, mainly for the Canadiens, but also with the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers.
Nilan’s show, which airs from 1-3pm weekdays starting March 18, will be called Off the Cuff with Chris Nilan. Like Tieman before him, Nilan will also co-host the Intermission show from noon to 1pm with Tony Marinaro.
“When Chris made it clear he wanted to pursue a career in broadcasting we made no promises. What we did do was open a door so he could reconnect to the city he loves and to the many fans who love him,” Mitch Melnick is quoted as saying in the TSN press release. “To his credit, Chris has kicked that door down.”
In an interview with Melnick, Nilan described what kind of show he wants to host:
“I want to do a show that entices people to listen,” Nilan said on air. “And to get people to listen I want to be upfront, I want to be honest, I would like to be funny, — I think I’m funny at times — and have some humour in there. I want to be able to let people know how I understand the game and how I look at the game, maybe not just big-picture-wise but little picture at times, as far as systems, the way the Canadiens are playing on certain nights or some of the things they do wrong. I guess my job is to analyze and comment on things, but I want to analyze it and I want to be fair and I want to be informative, and maybe some people don’t see some of the things I see, or know about the game. And I’d like to translate that to the people.”
Nilan was born in Boston and has a very thick Boston accent. Combined with the fact that he comes into this without the same kind of broadcasting experience as you might find from other high-profile on-air hosts makes him an interesting pick for the job. Nilan speaks slowly and has a lot of umms and ahhs when he talks, to say nothing of the words that come out of his mouth completely indecipherable. But if his analysis is insightful enough, sports fans are probably willing to see through that.