Jim Nill was a scrappy right winger who battled hard on every shift and could supply offense on occasion. His hard work resulted in over 500 games played with five different teams.
Born in Hanna, Alberta, Nill starred for the Drumheller Falcons of the AJHL in 1974-75. He spent three years with the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL and was chosen 89th overall by the St. Louis Blues in 1978 after he scored 47 goals. The next season he played with the University of Calgary before signing on with the Canadian national team for 1979-80. Nill scored 32 points in 45 exhibition games then played six matches for his country at the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics.
After gaining confidence via his international experience, Nill played a year with the CHL's Salt Lake Golden Eagles where here scored 28 goals and registered 222 penalty minutes. In 1981-82, the determined forward made the Blues out of training camp and played 61 games before he was sent to Vancouver as part of the package assembled to acquire Glen Hanlon. He got used to his new team over the remainder of the regular season schedule and in the process helped the Canucks reach the Stanley Cup finals. Nill stayed on the West Coast until he was traded to the Boston Bruins part way through the 1983-84 season. He wasn't given a great deal of ice time in Beantown but was rejuvenated by a trade to the Winnipeg Jets in February 1985.
Nill was a useful grinder on the Jets for nearly four years but the team was unable to outdo their western Canadian rivals from Edmonton and Calgary. He was sent down to the AHL by Winnipeg but didn't stay there long as Detroit coach Jacques Demers was an admirer of his hustle. On January 11, 1988, he was traded to the Wings for fellow journeyman forward Mark Kumpel. The close-checking and physical style of Demers' club suited Nill and he was a handy player with six goals in the 1988 playoffs when Detroit reached the semi-finals. He even scored two goals in the same game during a 6-3 win at Toronto in the first round. His hard work in the trenches helped Detroit finished first in the Norris Division. Nill dressed for 15 games in 1989-90 but spent most of the season with the Adirondack Red Wings of the AHL. He retired after playing 32 games and struggling with injuries with Adirondack in 1990-91.
Courtesy of the Hockey Hall of Fame