Corey Neilson: Nottingham Panthers head coach to leave at end of season

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Corey Neilson: Panthers coach proud of what he has achieved in Nottingham

Head coach Corey Neilson will leave Nottingham Panthers at the end of the 2017-18 season after the club decided not to renew his contract.

Neilson joined Nottingham as a player in 2006 and has been player-coach, assistant head and head coach during his 12 years with the side.

The Panthers will announce a new head coach at the end of the current season.

"It's time for a new chapter, both for myself to grow and the organisation," Neilson told the Panthers' website.

"My contract concludes at the end of this season and it has been decided that it's time for a change."

Nottingham Panthers are seventh in the Elite League following Sunday's 7-3 defeat by leaders Cardiff Devils.

Analysis

Chris Ellis, BBC Nottingham Sport

Neilson is the most successful coach in the history of Nottingham Panthers and he will be able to leave the club with his head held high.

After joining the club in the 2006-07 season as a player, he won the play-offs and Challenge Cup in successive seasons under Mike Ellis. After Ellis' departure in 2008, Neilson took on a player-coach role and his biggest achievement was leading the Panthers to their first league title success since 1956 in the 2012-13 season.

His number 77 shirt was retired at the end of that campaign and Neilson became head coach. As a coach he won four play-off titles, six Challenge Cups and the Continental Cup, which meant Panthers became the first UK side to win a European competition.

This season, he led the Panthers to the last 16 of the Champions Hockey League, despite being the 32nd and lowest-ranked team in the tournament.

Panthers have struggled for form in the league this season and have also been knocked out of the Challenge Cup by Belfast in the semi-finals.

But there is still the playoffs to come and the fairytale ending would surely be for Neilson and the Panthers to lift the final trophy of the season in the first week of April - and bring a fitting end to memorable 12 years at the club.

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