SUNRISE, Fla. – Sunrise Sports & Entertainment announced today that the Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) will dedicate the press box at the BB&T Center in honor of the late Roger Neilson, the franchise’s first head coach. The unveiling of the Roger Neilson Memorial Press Box will take place on Monday, Nov. 25 at noon. Lunch will be provided to all media members in Club RED by Stoli (further details on the unveiling will be announced later this week).
“We are humbled and honored to dedicate the BB&T Center press box in Roger Neilson’s name,” said Panthers President & CEO Michael R. Yormark (@PanthersYormark). “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 was named the Panthers first head coach on June 2, 1993, where he would coach for two seasons. He guided the team to a 33-34-17 mark in their inaugural year. His team’s 33 wins, 83 points and .493 winning percentage set National Hockey League records for a first-year club. Neilson finished fourth in voting for the Jack Adams Award for Coach of the Year honor for his efforts.
Prior to working in Florida, Neilson was the head coach of the New York Rangers (1989-1993). In his three-plus seasons with the Rangers, Neilson led the team to two regular season Patrick Division championships (1990 & 1992) and he was a finalist for NHL Coach of the Year twice (1990 & 1992).
Neilson’s first NHL coaching stint was with the Toronto Maple Leafs (1977-1978). He also coached the Buffalo Sabres (1979-1981), Vancouver Canucks (1982-1983), Los Angeles Kings (1983-1984) and Chicago Blackhawks (1984-1987).
Upon leaving the Panthers, Neilson was hired as an assistant coach in St. Louis where he worked with Mike Keenan and Joel Quenneville. On March 9, 1998 he took over head coaching duties for the Philadelphia Flyers, where we would spend parts of three seasons (1998-2000).
In the fall of 2000, Neilson was hired as an assistant coach to Jacques Martin in Ottawa. Martin stepped aside for the final two games of the 2001-2002 season, in order to allow Neilson to reach his 1000th regular season NHL game as a head coach. His coaching career record stands at 460-378-162, including making the NHL postseason on 11 different occasions.
After being diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a form of cancer, on December 9, 1999, Neilson valiantly continued coaching between treatments before succumbing to the disease on June 21, 2003. During his courageous fight, he established the Roger Neilson Forever Hockey Fund to help bring children and hockey and fun together. His lifelong commitment to hockey went beyond the traditional season. Neilson would begin his second season, his vacation, as an operator and instructor of hockey camps every summer. He operated "Roger Neilson's Hockey Camp," an off-season clinic at the University of Windsor, as well as a five-week international camp that he started in 1976.
Roger's House is the legacy that was created in Roger 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 free standing 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 its first guest and family on May 15th 2006, within two years of the idea's conception.
Sunrise Sports & Entertainment is the premier company of its kind in South Florida. Florida Panthers Social Media is powered by Ford - follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Home to the Florida Panthers Hockey Club and internationally recognized concerts and events, the Broward County-owned BB&T Center is one of the top ranked venues of its kind in the world.