Harry Neale

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Harry Neale
Born (1937-03-09) March 9, 1937 (age 81)
Sarnia, Ontario, Canada
Previous team(s) Minnesota Fighting Saints
Vancouver Canucks
Detroit Red Wings
Years as a coach 1970s–1980s
Years as an NHL coach 1978–1986

Harold Watson Neale[1] (born March 9, 1937) is a hockey colour commentator, who currently works for the Toronto Maple Leafs on Leafs TV.[2] He is a former NCAA, NHL and WHA coach and General Manager.

Coaching career

Following his playing career, Neale got his head coaching start at Hill Park Secondary School in Hamilton, Ontario.

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 to coach junior hockey in Hamilton.

Neale was hired as assistant coach of the Minnesota Fighting Saints of the WHA in 1972. He replaced Glen Sonmor 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 1976–78. 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 prior to 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 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 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 in April 1985.

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

Coaching record

NHL record

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

WHA record

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

NCAA record

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Ohio State University (Independent) (1966–67–1969–70)
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

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 did not qualify. 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 twenty Stanley Cup Finals. In the playoffs, when Cole was working with other analysts, Neale also worked with Don Wittman and Chris Cuthbert. 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 World Cup of Hockey in 1996 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.

He was the colour commentator for the Buffalo Sabres with Rick Jeanneret, a personal friend of Neale's, until the end of the 2011-12 NHL season. On 11 June 2012, the Buffalo Sabres announced that Neale would be replaced by fellow broadcaster and former Sabre Rob Ray, and would be moved to an analyst spot for Sabres broadcasts for the pregame show and intermission reports.[3]

On September 15, 2013, Toronto Maple Leafs' play-by-play commentator, Joe Bowen broke the news that Harry Neale returned to Leafs TV to be the colour commentator for Leaf games on Leafs TV during the 2013-14 NHL season. The announcement was made during a pre-season game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Philadelphia Flyers at Budweiser Gardens in London, Ontario. He did his first Leaf game since returning as their colour commentator on September 22, 2013 when the Buffalo Sabres played the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario.[4]


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

On June 11, 2013, it was announced that Neale would be given the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award and thus be honored by the Hockey Hall of Fame.[6]

Personal life

Harry Neale has five children Michael, Mary, Sara, Lauren, and David.


  1. Marquis Who's Who on the Web
  2. http://video.mapleleafs.nhl.com/videocenter/console?catid=802&id=444420&lang=en
  3. John Vogl (2012-06-11). "Sabres shuffle team in broadcast booth". The Buffalo News. Retrieved 2012-06-12. The Sabres announced numerous changes to their television and radio broadcasts Monday, and the biggest involves the booth. Jeanneret has signed a multiyear contract and will do play-by-play for more games than he did last season, when he took several breaks. Rob Ray will replace Harry Neale as the lead color analyst. Neale will continue to work on the telecasts, as will Kevin Sylvester, Mike Robitaille, Danny Gare and Brian Duff. Neale will join Robitaille as a regular analyst on the pregame show and intermission reports, while Robitaille will continue to do the postgame show.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. http://video.mapleleafs.nhl.com/videocenter/console?catid=802&id=444420&lang=en Harry Neale Announcement - 9/15/2013. Joe Bowen breaks the news that Harry Neale will be joining the Leafs TV broadcast team. 9/15/2013
  5. WHA Hall of Fame Members
  6. Vogl, John (11 June 2013). "Sabres' Neale follows Jeanneret into Hockey Hall of Fame as Foster Hewitt winner". The Buffalo News. Retrieved 11 June 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
Preceded by
Glen Sonmor
Ohio State Head Ice Hockey Coach
Succeeded by
Dave Chambers