Harry Neale
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Harry Neale

Harry Neale
Sarnia, Ontario, Canada
Previous team(s)Minnesota Fighting Saints
New England Whalers
Vancouver Canucks
Detroit Red Wings
Years as a coach1970s-1980s
Years as an NHL coach1978-1986

Harold Watson Neale[1] (born March 9, 1937) is a retired NCAA, NHL and WHA coach and general manager, and ice hockey broadcaster.

Coaching career

Following his playing career, Neale got his head coaching start at Hill Park Secondary School in Hamilton, Ontario, where he also taught social studies and physical education.[2]

In 1966, he replaced Glen Sonmor at Ohio State University. While at Ohio State, he was a physical fitness trainer for the Ohio State football team. He coached the Buckeyes for four seasons compiling a 49-48-3 record. He left Ohio State in 1970 to coach junior hockey in Hamilton.

Neale was hired as assistant coach of the Minnesota Fighting Saints of the WHA in 1972. He replaced Sonmor again as head coach late in the 1972-73 season. He remained head coach until the Fighting Saints franchise folded during the 1975-76 season. Following Minnesota, Neale remained in the WHA as head coach of the New England Whalers for two seasons from 1976 to 1978. He coached the Whalers to the Avco Cup Finals where they lost to the Winnipeg Jets. Between stints at Minnesota and New England, Neale was an assistant coach for the U.S. team in the 1976 Canada Cup.

Hired by the Vancouver Canucks in 1978, Neale coached the Canucks for almost four seasons. Late in the 1981-82 season, Neale was involved in an altercation with fans during a game in Quebec City against the Nordiques and was suspended for ten games. Assistant coach Roger Neilson was promoted to interim coach during the suspension. When the Canucks lost only once in ten games, Neilson was given the job full-time as the team advanced to the 1982 Stanley Cup Finals. At season's end, Neale was promoted to general manager (an arrangement made prior to the suspension).

Neale returned to the Canucks bench in January 1984 after firing Neilson and again in November 1984 after firing Bill LaForge twenty games into the season. The Canucks fired Neale from his posts as vice-president, general manager, and head coach in April 1985.

The Detroit Red Wings hired Neale prior to the 1985-86 season. However, after a poor start, Neale was fired after 35 games.

Head coaching record


Statistics overview
Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Ohio State Buckeyes (Independent) (1966-1970)
1966-67 Ohio State 10-10-0
1967-68 Ohio State 9-13-2
1968-69 Ohio State 11-18-0
1969-70 Ohio State 19-7-1
Total: 49-48-3

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion


Team Year Regular season Post season
G W L T Pts Finish Result
Minnesota Fighting Saints 1972-73 19 10 9 0 (73) 4th in West Lost in Semi-Finals
Minnesota Fighting Saints 1973-74 76 42 32 2 86 2nd in West Lost in Semi-Finals
Minnesota Fighting Saints 1974-75 77 42 32 3 87 3rd in West Lost in Semi-Finals
Minnesota Fighting Saints 1975-76 59 30 25 4 64 4th in West (team folded)
New England Whalers 1975-76 12 5 6 1 (73) 3rd in East Lost in Semi-Finals
New England Whalers 1976-77 81 35 40 6 76 4th in East Lost in Semi-Finals
New England Whalers 1977-78 80 44 31 5 93 2nd in WHA Lost in Avco Cup Finals


Team Year Regular season Post season
G W L T Pts Finish Result
Vancouver Canucks 1978-79 80 25 42 13 63 2nd in Smythe Lost in Preliminary Round
Vancouver Canucks 1979-80 80 27 37 16 70 3rd in Smythe Lost in Preliminary Round
Vancouver Canucks 1980-81 80 28 32 10 76 3rd in Smythe Lost in Preliminary Round
Vancouver Canucks 1981-82 75 26 33 16 (77) 2nd in Smythe (suspended)
Vancouver Canucks 1983-84 32 15 13 4 (73) 3rd in Smythe Lost in Division Semi-Finals
Vancouver Canucks 1984-85 60 21 32 7 (59) 5th in Smythe Missed playoffs
Detroit Red Wings 1985-86 35 8 23 4 (40) 5th in Norris (fired)
Total 442 150 212 80

Broadcast career

During his coaching and managerial career, he sometimes worked for Hockey Night in Canada as an analyst in the playoffs, in the event his team missed the playoffs or eliminated from Stanley Cup contention. He then began working as a broadcaster full-time in 1986. That year, he was first teamed with play-by-play man Bob Cole on CBC. Together, the pair broadcast 20 Stanley Cup Finals. In the playoffs, when Cole was working with other color commentators, he also worked with Don Wittman, Chris Cuthbert, and Jim Hughson. During this time, he also provided colour commentary for locally televised Toronto Maple Leafs games. During his tenure, he was paired with play-by-play broadcasters Jim Hughson, Ken Daniels, Jiggs McDonald, and Joe Bowen. In addition, Neale occasionally worked on Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames broadcasts. He left the Toronto telecasts after the 2006-07 season to join the Buffalo Sabres broadcast team.

As a colour commentator, Neale has covered the 1998, 2002, and 2006 Winter Olympics and the 1996 World Cup of Hockey and 2004 for CBC. He is known for the same sense of humour he was famous for as a coach, often referring to the puck as "..bouncing like an Indian Rubber (lacrosse) ball", as well as for his estimations of exact distances on the ice.

Neale spent five seasons, from 2007-08 to 2011-12, as the colour commentator for the Buffalo Sabres serving alongside Rick Jeanneret, a personal friend of Neale's and fellow Foster Hewitt Memorial Award winner. He spent the 2012-13 season as a studio analyst for the Sabres' pregame show and intermission reports.[3]

During the 2013-14 season, Neale served as colour commentator for Toronto Maple Leafs broadcasts on Leafs TV. He retired at the end of the 2013-14 season.[4]


In 2010, he was elected as an inaugural inductee into the World Hockey Association Hall of Fame in the coaching category.[5]

In 2013, Neale received the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award and thus was honored by the Hockey Hall of Fame.[6]

Personal life

Neale grew up in Sarnia, Ontario and moved to East Amherst, New York in 1987.[2] He has five children.


  1. ^ Marquis Who's Who on the Web
  2. ^ a b Vogl, John (April 1, 2017). "At age 80, hockey is still funny business for Harry Neale". The Buffalo News. Retrieved 2018.
  3. ^ John Vogl (June 11, 2012). "Sabres shuffle team in broadcast booth". The Buffalo News. Retrieved 2012.
  4. ^ http://video.mapleleafs.nhl.com/videocenter/console?catid=802&id=444420&lang=en Harry Neale Announcement - September 15, 2013. Joe Bowen breaks the news that Harry Neale will be joining the Leafs TV broadcast team. September 15, 2013
  5. ^ "WHA Hall of Fame Members". www.whahof.com. Archived from the original on October 17, 2018. Retrieved 2017.
  6. ^ Vogl, John (June 11, 2013). "Sabres' Neale follows Jeanneret into Hockey Hall of Fame as Foster Hewitt winner". The Buffalo News. Archived from the original on June 15, 2013. Retrieved 2013.

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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