Chris Nilan says he doesn’t know where convicted Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger got a Canadiens Stanley Cup ring, but insists it wasn’t from him.
“Either someone gave it to him or he commissioned someone to have a ring made,” Nilan told The Gazette on Tuesday. “I don’t even know what it looks like, to be honest with you … who knows? I know they put a picture out there of a ring, but I don’t know if that’s the ring. I mean, anybody can put a picture of a Stanley Cup ring out there with my name on it, right? Because people have taken pictures of it … but I have both rings with me right now.”
Nilan was part of the Canadiens’ 1986 Stanley Cup team and actually received two rings from that championship. Nilan gave his original ring to his father and when former Canadiens general manager Serge Savard found out what Nilan had done had another one made for him.
“I have both rings here … I have my father’s ring, because I’m getting it re-sized,” Nilan said Tuesday. “He gave it to my son (Christopher). And I have my other ring.”
Bulger, a mobster who terrorized South Boston in the 1970s and ’80s as head of the Winter Hill Gang, was found guilty Monday in a Boston court of gangland crimes, including 11 murders. The 83-year-old faces a sentence of life in prison with sentencing set for Nov. 13. Nilan’s ex-wife, Karen Stanley, is the daughter of Bulger’s ex-girlfriend, Teresa Stanley.
On Monday, the CBS affiliate in Boston reported that Bulger waived his right to have the jury decide whether he must forfeit $822,000 in cash, along with guns and personal possessions found in his Santa Monica hideaway when he was captured in June 2011 after 16 years on the run. The report added that in a court filing released Monday it was revealed Bulger wants to hold onto one special item: a 1986 Canadiens Stanley Cup ring. The ring still remains in government possession and there’s no guarantee Bulger will get it back.
The CBS report stated: “The ring is believed to have once belonged to former Hab Chris ‘Knuckles’ Nilan.”
Nilan was contacted by The Gazette by text message late Monday night and responded at the time he had no comment on the Boston story. But Nilan contacted The Gazette by phone Tuesday morning saying he wanted to clear the air about the story and his relationship with Bulger.
“I married Karen … I didn’t marry (Bulger),” Nilan said. “You know, he was always good to us … he was good to my family. As far as the other stuff, I don’t condone it. He’s paying the price now for what he did … and you know, that’s life. But honestly, I had nothing to do with giving him a Stanley Cup ring.”
Nilan also sent an official statement to The Gazette about reports on the Stanley Cup ring. You can read it below along with a web link to more on this story:
(Photo by Dave Sidaway/The Gazette)
CHRIS NILAN STATEMENT
Recent media reports have inaccurately asserted that James Bulger is in possession of a 1986 Stanley Cup ring given to him by me. Those reports have no basis in fact. James Bulger was never given a Stanley Cup ring by me at any time.
I won a Stanley Cup ring as a member of the 1985-86 Montreal Canadiens. I gave that ring to my father, Henry Nilan. I am currently in possession of that ring as it is being resized as a gift to my son, Christopher.
In 1988, Montreal Canadiens general manager Serge Savard heard that I had given my original ring to my Dad and Serge generously presented me with a second Stanley Cup ring which I wear to this day.
I commissioned a jeweller here in Montreal to make three women’s Stanley Cup rings for my mother, my former wife and my late mother-in-law, Teresa Stanley. My former wife and my mother remain in possession of their rings. Mrs. Stanley wore her ring in her casket and before her burial, at Mrs. Stanley’s prior request, that ring was given to my daughter.
At no time, to my knowledge, did I or any member of my family give James Bulger a Stanley Cup ring. I have no idea where any ring in Mr. Bulger’s possession was made and I hope that this statement provides absolute clarification in this matter.
August 13, 2013