One of the longest tenured players in Senators history is no longer.
Neil, 37, met Monday with Sens GM Pierre Dorion, who informed him of the club’s decision. It came after Neil played just 53 contests last season, this after appearing in 80 during the ’15-16 campaign.
“They had a meeting with him and told him, ‘We don’t think you’re going to be happy with this role’,” agent Todd Reynolds explained. “Neil said, ‘Yeah, I don’t think I would be either and it’s probably not what I’d like to endure for a year’.
“(They agreed) let’s just mutually go our separate ways here and see if something better is out there for you where they’re going to give you eight, nine or 10 minutes a night possibly.”
Neil is expected to test free agency this summer, as he isn’t ready to retire.
If he does land somewhere else, it’ll be strange seeing him in a different uniform.
Neil was taken by Ottawa in the sixth round of the 1998 draft, and made his NHL debut three years later. He’s been one of the club’s most recognizable players ever since, in large part to his pugilistic ways. During the 2003-04 campaign, Neil fought a remarkable 24 times.
He currently sits third on the franchise’s games played leaderboard — trailing only Chris Phillips and Daniel Alfredsson — and is Ottawa’s all-time leader in penalty minutes.