Roger Neilson, coach of the NHL's Philadelphia Flyers, has attracted his share of media attention. Known as "Captain Video." A wearer of loud ties, and a man with a curling mop of hair that hasn't changed in 20 years, Roger is a true NFL character.
Recently Roger made headlines again, when he made the announcement that he's suffering from bone cancer. "I was in shock," says Flyers' captain Eric Lindros. "He was stronger about it than I was. Roger means an awful lot to me
He's someone you can trust and confide in."
Roger's optimism about his illness had reporters scratching their heads. "That's the most amazing thing about Roger Neilson's cancer diagnosis; how upbeat he is," write Jim Matteson in the Edmonton Journal. "How does a person faced with pain keep such a positive outlook on life? "My faith is what keeps me going, " says Roger.
Doctors say he should survive at least five years, possibly as many as 15. Roger says it's in God's hands. "I believe God has a plan. If the plan is for me to beat it, I'll give it everything I've got." And id he doesn't beat the cancer? "Heaven is a better place than Philadelphia," he quips.
At age 12, Roger committed his life to Jesus. "It's been the best thing that ever happened to me for sure," he told Sports Spectrum magazine. His faith has helped him through some tough times in his NHL coaching career.
"There's a lot of pressure at the NHL level. You usually last a couple of years with a team and you're fired or not rehired," he told Sports Spectrum. "That's where your Christian faith kicks in. That's what keeps you going."
Roger has coached a record seven NHL teams. Since starting with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1977, he has coached the Buffalo Sabres, Vancouver Canucks, Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers and Florida Panthers before coming to Philadelphia in the 1997-98 season.
Harry Neale, Hockey Night in Canada colour analyst and longtime friend of Roger doesn't expect Roger to throw in the towel during his battle with cancer.
"He'll take this a lot better than most people," Neale says. "He's got a real strong belief in God and Heaven, much stronger than anyone I know in this business." As for Roger, he says; "I won't be complaining to God."
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