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OTTAWA (AP) _ Roger Neilson, sidelined by cancer two games shy of becoming the ninth person to coach 1,000 NHL games, will take over the Ottawa Senators' bench for the last two contests of the season.

The Senators said Monday that Neilson would coach home games Thursday against Boston and Saturday against Toronto. He has been an assistant with Ottawa the last two seasons.

Jacques Martin, the Senators' regular coach, will serve as associate coach for those contests.

Neilson also will become the first person to be listed as head coach of eight NHL teams.

``Roger is such an icon of coaching in hockey around the world and in the NHL that we felt it a privilege to have him coach his 999th and 1,000th NHL games with the Ottawa Senators,'' general manager Marshall Johnston said.

Neilson, 67, said he was ``thrilled and honored'' by the move.

``It's been almost 25 years since my first game as head coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs (Oct. 13 1977 when Toronto tied Detroit 3-3) and it's still as exciting as ever,'' he said.

Neilson's last head coaching stint was with the Philadelphia Flyers from March 9, 1998, to the end of the '99-2000 season. Craig Ramsay serve as the Flyers' interim head coach from Feb. 20, 2000, until the end of the playoffs as Neilson underwent chemotherapy treatment for multiple myeloma and a successful stem cell transplant.

Neilson and Florida coach Mike Keenan share the NHL record of coaching seven teams each.

In addition to Toronto and Philadelphia, Neilson has coached Buffalo (1980-81), Vancouver (1981-1984), Los Angeles (1984), New York Rangers (1989-'93) and Florida (1993-'95).