Neil, who is now 37 years old, has played only once this month, with only one shot on goal in his last five games. Known more for fisticuffs and a rugged style of play, Neil has only one goal and three points in 47 games this season, while averaging well under eight minutes of ice time per game.
Last February, he signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract extension, adding yet another season with the Senators under his belt. Since coming into the league in 2001, Neil has since gone on to play in 1,020 NHL games — all with the same team, and it would certainly seem that sitting out of late has been a difficult experience for the veteran forward.
“Over the course of my career, there’s times when you’re banged up, but you suck it up and play. That’s because I want to be in there. Right now, I want to be in there. It hurts not playing. That’s not my decision,” Neil told the Ottawa Sun.
The reported decision to put him back in the lineup versus the Buffalo Sabres tonight comes with the Senators having won two straight games and eyeing an opportunity to jump within four points of the Canadiens — Did anything of interest happen in Montreal today? — for top spot in the Atlantic Division.
The Senators currently have five games in hand, too.