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"God knew there could only be one Roger Neilson," said one speaker at Neilson's memorial service in Peterbourough, Ontario, on June 28, 2003. When the iconic coach of the NHL died, he left an indelible imprint on the hearts and souls of the hockey world. He was perhaps the most beloved man in hockey. Four and a half months after Roger passed to the other side, his friend Mike Caluari said, "No one was more confident of his eternal reward."
Roger had a passion for spreading the word about Christ. "When I die, I know where I'm going, and it sure beats Philadelphia," Roger is known for saying. Gentle, real, and thoughtful, Neilson's way of bearing witness was never overbearing.
As a mentor, a father figure, coach, and friend, Roger Neilson is alive in the memories of the people whose lives he touched and through the message he worked so hard to convey.
"For his friends in hockey, Rog wanted to impart the great attributes he had: sportsmanship, love of the game," says Hall of Fame inductee Mike Gartner. "But what he desired most of all was for his friends to accept Christ."