Nottingham Panthers: Corey Neilson returns as head coach to ‘be part of the solution’

Corey Neilson won 12 major trophies as Nottingham Panthers head coach in his first stint in the job

Corey Neilson says he wanted to return as Nottingham Panthers head coach because he “cares” about the club and saw they were struggling.

Neilson is the most successful coach in the Elite Ice Hockey League club’s history, and led them to their last piece of major silverware in 2017.

Since his departure in 2018 they have gone through three permanent coaches before bringing Neilson back.

“I came back to see if I could be part of the solution,” he said.

“The opportunity came up and I’d been watching for a lot of years, looking from afar with my Panthers kit on.

“I’ve seen the club has struggled just a little bit. Even in my last year here there were some tough times.”

Neilson went on to take up coaching roles at four different clubs in Germany, Norway and Slovakia.

His most successful spell was with German club Lausitzer Fuchse, where he won DEL2 coach of the year award in 2019 in his first year after leaving the British game – where he spent 12 years with the Panthers as a player and coach.

“Over these last few years I’ve worked really hard to improve myself as a coach,” Neilson told BBC East Midlands Today.

“Coming back to more familiar territory and a league that I know pretty well is another opportunity to continue to grow as a coach.”

Neilson replaced Gary Graham at the National Ice Center on Tuesday after the American was sacked after just four months in the job.

Graham had overseen just 10 wins in 23 games across all competitions, leaving Panthers sixth in the table and just four points off the bottom.

Leaders Guildford, who inflicted back-to-back defeats on Nottingham in Graham’s final two matches, are 18 points clear of the Panthers.

Neilson, whose success with Nottingham included winning the Elite League title as well as six Challenge Cups and their first and only European trophy, says his immediate focus is on having the team “performing positively” and with “passion” again.

“Let’s be honest, I’m not the most outwardly passionate guy, but I’m simmering underneath my quiet exterior,” he said.

“I care and wanted to come back and show that I do.

“I just want to see the team start to perform. Obviously the Elite League is about results and results matter.

“At this stage, with the record I’m coming into, that’s my biggest goal – get them playing the right way, the Panther way.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button