"After last season, I couldn't be happier to get back in like this with a contending team," the 66-year-old Neilson said during a conference call.
Neilson will team with coach Jacques Martin and assistant Perry Pearn. He replaces Andre Savard, who left the team last month to become player personnel director of the Montreal Canadiens.
"Coming into a place where you know everybody and a contending team close to where I live, it couldn't be better," Neilson said.
In addition to Philadelphia, Neilson has been head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Los Angeles Kings, Florida Panthers and New York Rangers. He ranks eighth in career coaching victories and took the Canucks to the Stanley Cup finals.
After being diagnosed with bone marrow cancer last season, Neilson left his job for treatment, under the assurance he would receive his job back when healthy.
However, when Neilson was cleared to return to coaching in the playoffs, Flyers general manager Bob Clarke refused to remove interim head coach Craig Ramsay. Ramsay, who had been an assistant under Neilson, was hired as the head coach in June.
Martin and Neilson have worked together once before, under Mike Keenan with the Chicago Blackhawks.
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