The Florida Panthers will honor one of the NHL's most respected and innovative coaches Monday with the unveiling of the Roger Neilson Memorial Press Box at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla.
Neilson, who died from cancer at the age of 69 on June 21, 2003, was named the first coach of the Panthers on June 2, 1993.
The dedication will take place at noon. The Panthers face the Philadelphia Flyers, another team Neilson coached, Monday night.
Neilson led the Panthers to a 33-34-17 mark in their first season, establishing a League record for a first-year club with 33 wins, 83 points and a .493 points percentage. He would finish fourth in voting for the Jack Adams Award as the League's coach of the year.
"We are humbled and honored to dedicate the BB&T Center press box in Roger Neilson's name," Panthers president and CEO Michael R. Yormark said in a statement. "He is a hockey legend, Hockey Hall of Fame inductee and our organization's first head coach. We are also very proud to partner with Roger's House as we make this special announcement."
Neilson coached the Toronto Maple Leafs (1977-78), the Buffalo Sabres (1979-81), Vancouver Canucks (1982-83), Los Angeles Kings (1983-84), Chicago Blackhawks (1984-87), New York Rangers (1989-93), Philadelphia Flyers (1997-2000) and for two games with the Ottawa Senators in April 2002.
Those final two games with the Senators were the 999th and 1,000th regular-season games; he finished with a record of 460-378-162, and reached the Stanley Cup Playoffs 11 times.
Among his most well-known innovations was the use of videotape he used to analyze other teams, leading to the nickname "Captain Video." He was the first to use microphone headsets to communicate with his assistant coaches.
After being diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a form of cancer, on Dec. 9, 1999, Neilson continued coaching between treatments before succumbing to the disease in 2003. During his courageous battle he established the Roger Neilson Forever Hockey Fund to help bring children and hockey and fun together. Neilson operated and worked as an instructor during the summer at Roger Neilson's Hockey Camp, an offseason clinic at the University of Windsor, as well as a five-week international camp he started in 1976.
Roger's House is the legacy that was created in Neilson's honor by the Ottawa Senators Foundation in collaboration with The Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, the Ontario Ministries of Health, and Children and Youth Services. The result is a freestanding eight-bed palliative care facility on the grounds of CHEO for children with progressive life-limiting illness. The overwhelming contribution and support of the Ottawa community made the dream of Roger's House a reality. Roger's House opened its doors to guests and family on May 15, 2006.
Neilson was awarded a Doctor of Laws by McMaster University in 2001, inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder in November 2002, and was appointed as a Member of the Order of Canada in 2002.