SUNRISE (CBSMiami) – The Florida Panthers announced Tuesday a tribute to the team’s first head coach, Roger Neilson. The Panthers will unveil the Roger Neilson Memorial Press Box on Monday.
“We are humbled and honored to dedicate the BB&T Center press box in Roger Neilson’s name,” Panthers President & 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 was announced as the Panthers’ first head coach on June 2, 1993. He coached the Panthers for two seasons and compiled a 33-34-17 record in the team’s first season. His .493 winning percentage is an NHL record for the first year as a franchise.
Neilson left the Panthers and took an assistant coaching job with the St. Louis Blues. In 1998, Neilson took over head coaching duties for the Philadelphia Flyers, where we would spend parts of three seasons.
In the fall of 2000, Neilson was hired as an assistant coach 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.
Neilson passed away in June 2003 from complications of multiple myeloma. He set up the Roger Neilson Forever Hockey Fund to help get children more involved in hockey.