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REMEMBERING ROGER: Panthers Honor First Coach, Name Press Box After Neilson

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

The Panthers honored their first coach Monday by naming the press box at BB&T Center after Roger Neilson in an afternoon ceremony.

Owner Vinnie Viola said he wanted to be at the event to "make it very clear that the Panthers organization takes care of its own and remembers the sacrifice and dedication it takes.''

Neilson was hired by Bill Torrey, the Panthers' team president at the time. On Monday, Torrey opened his remarks by commenting on Neilson's colorful -- and often very inexpensive -- neckties. "We thought they were bandanas from Woodstock,'' Brian Skrudland joked.

Neilson died in 2003 after battling cancer.

"Roger is being honored in a lovely way and a way he would appreciate,'' Torrey said. "I told Roger, 'you gave your life to hockey.' What more can you say to someone who truly, every single day of life, had his happiest moments when he was at the rink hassling the players or hassling the general manager. I miss him.''

Fans honored Neilson's memory with a standing ovation during a first period timeout. Neilson also coached the Flyers for a few seasons.