Neilson pushes on despite cancer

Updated: May 16, 2003, 12:33 PM ET
By By Jim Wilkie | NHL Insider
Playoff time brings out numerous stories of hard work, overcoming adversity and fighting the odds on a quest to win the Stanley Cup. Of all of them this year, none is as compelling as Ottawa assistant coach Roger Neilson's.

The 68-year-old longtime coach is fighting bone and skin cancer, but travels with the Senators whenever possible during the playoffs despite a condition that's left him frail, gaunt and sometimes unsteady on his feet. Fighting for his life, Neilson soldiers on in his quest for his first Stanley Cup.

"I met with Roger in his office [the other day] and it was pretty hard," former Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Jim Gregory, who gave Neilson his first NHL coaching job, told the National Post. "He has an unbelievable spirit and belief in God that keeps him going, and is remarkable in the sense that he always asks about other people. When I saw him ... he enquired about my kids and how everyone in the family was doing. That's what Roger is all about."