A former hockey agent seeks answers about CTE before it’s too late

Chris Nilan is a quintessential Bostonian of a certain era and demographic, the type they make movies about: a tough, working-class hockey player of Irish descent, hundreds, if not thousands, of local kids wished they were just like him. He was born February 9, 1958, at Faulkner Hospital in West Roxbury, Massachusetts, the son of Henry and Leslie Nilan, a hard-working blue-collar couple who raised their four children in a strict household. Chris was still fighting his way as a child and soon discovered that he was a capable and fearless fighter. Often, he said, he stood up for others. Later, he mingled with groups of kids and young adults on the streets and in bars of Boston.

He met Karen Stanley at Northeastern University and they fell in love. When people asked about Bulger, Nilan pointed out that he married Karen, not her stepfather. He described their 1981 wedding, with Henry Nilan’s Green Beret friends on one side, Bulger and his buddies on the other, and Nilan’s hockey buddies in the middle.

“We could have invaded a small country,” Nilan said with a laugh.

Several years later, Bulger was photographed with the Stanley Cup after Nilan’s Canadiens won it in 1986. Nilan stresses that he was never aware of Bulger’s criminal activities, but described tension between Bulger and his father, an honest worker and taxpayer who disapproved of the Stanley Cup. the “lifestyle” of the then famous gangster.

Once, when both parents were visiting Montreal, Bulger bought Nilan’s mother an expensive fur coat, which upset Nilan’s father. Bulger loved Nilan’s courageous and fighting behavior.