Work in Sports
Flyers' Neilson to assist remainder of playoffs
Posted: Thursday April 27, 2000 01:17 AM
PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- After doctors advised him not to return as a full-time coach, a "disappointed" Roger Neilson on Monday was named by the Philadelphia Flyers to serve as an assistant to interim Craig Ramsay for the remainder of the playoffs.
Diagnosed with multiple myeloma December 9, Neilson left the Flyers on February 19 and underwent stem cell transplant surgery on March 10 to battle a form of bone cancer. He planned to rejoin the team if it reached the second round of the playoffs.
Under Ramsay, the Flyers beat the Buffalo Sabres, 4-1 in the first round and are preparing to meet the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
However, Dr. Isadore Brodsky, who performed the surgery, advised the Flyers not to reinstate Neilson as the head coach at this time.
"On behalf of myself and my transplant group, we do not want Roger to undertake full-time activities as head coach at this point in his recovery," Dr. Brodsky said. "I regret if there was a misunderstanding that arose from my previous comments relative to the point Roger could return to the team. I was referring to the time when Roger might be able to resume a limited role with the team, and not the point where he could realistically take on the stress and pressure of a head coach in playoff hockey."
After consulting with the doctors, Flyers general manager Bob Clarke met with Neilson at practice Monday and decided to stay with Ramsay as the coach for the rest of the playoffs.
"I am very disappointed," Neilson said. "Although I had hoped to come back as head coach, I am completely respectful of the doctors' opinions and I look forward to helping out Craig and the coaching staff in any way I can."
Dr. Pamela Crilley, a member of Brodsky's transplant group, also recommended Neilson return strictly as an assistant.
"I think it would be advisable for us to be cautious in terms of him going back to work full-time," Crilley said. "Although he appears fine, we have to remember that he did just undergo a bone marrow transplant and that it would be in his best interest to go back slowly or on a part-time basis, some capacity that is less stressful than what he is used to doing."
Neilson, 65, was originally diagnosed with cancer on December 9. The Flyers were 29-17-11 under Neilson and behind the New Jersey Devils in the Atlantic Division.
Under Ramsay, the Flyers went 16-8-1, passed the Devils, finished with the most points in the Eastern Conference and defeated the Sabres in the first round.
Wayne Cashman and Mike Stothers will remain as assistant coaches.
Neilson was named coach of the Flyers when Cashman was demoted in March 1998. Before joining the Flyers, Neilson spent 2 1/2 seasons as an assistant with the St. Louis Blues after two years as coach of the expansion Florida Panthers.
He coached the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1977-78 and has had stints with the Buffalo Sabres (1979-81), Vancouver Canucks (1982-83), Los Angeles Kings (1983-84), Chicago Blackhawks (1984-87) and New York Rangers (1989-93).
Nicknamed "Captain Video" and known for his outrageous ties, Neilson was the NHL's innovator in using videotape as a coaching tool.
He led the Canucks to the 1982 Stanley Cup Finals and was runner-up for the Adams Award as the NHL's best coach following the 1991-92 season, when the Rangers captured the Presidents' Trophy.
Neilson, who is 76-52-32 with the Flyers, ranks ninth on the all-time list with 443 wins and 10th with 973 games coached.