Panthers to name press box after the late Roger Neilson

Posted: November 21, 2013

THE FLORIDA Panthers are naming their press box after the late Roger Neilson, the franchise's first coach who also spent parts of three seasons behind the Flyers bench.

A dedication will be held at the Panthers' arena on Monday afternoon. The Flyers play at Florida later that night.

Neilson was known for his curly hair, loud ties and for occasionally getting lost on the way to the arena. His innovation with game tape earned him the nickname "Captain Video." Neilson coached eight teams from 1977-02. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2002.

Flyers coach Craig Berube played for Neilson for two seasons and still holds dear a congratulatory note Neilson sent him after Berube played his 1,000th game. Neilson was battling cancer when he sent it. Berube was with Calgary nearing the end of his playing career.

Neilson was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 1999 while he was coaching Berube and the Flyers. He was replaced by Craig Ramsay in the spring of 2000 shortly before the team's run to the Eastern Conference finals, which ended when New Jersey's Scott Stevens knocked out Eric Lindros.

Flyers general manager Bob Clarke was criticized at the time for coldly dismissing Neilson, but Berube said, "It was the right thing to do."

"I felt for [Roger] because he wanted to coach his team," Berube said. "But at the time, with his health, it was probably best that he wasn't behind the bench."

Neilson passed away in 2003. His battle with the disease was a dark cloud over hockey, but it didn't prevent him from reaching out when Berube achieved his milestone.

"He was the kind of coach you'd want to play for for a long time," Berube said. "He was a professional coach. He didn't talk to his players a whole lot, but he knew exactly what was going on. He basically told you what your job was and that's it. You went and did it. There were no surprises with him."


 

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