Ron Wilson (ice hockey, born 1955)

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For the other Ron Wilson associated with ice hockey, see Ron Wilson (ice hockey b. 1956).
Ron Wilson
Ron Wilson cropper.JPG
Born (1955-05-28) May 28, 1955 (age 59)
Windsor, ON, CAN
Height 5 ft 11 in (180 cm)
Weight 175 lb (79 kg; 12 st 7 lb)
Position Defense
Shot Right
Played for Minnesota North Stars
HC Davos
Kloten Flyers
Toronto Maple Leafs
National team  United States
NHL Draft 132nd overall, 1975
Toronto Maple Leafs
WHA Draft 176th overall, 1974
Houston Aeros
Playing career 1977–1988

Ronald Lawrence Wilson (born May 28, 1955) is a Canadian-born American former professional ice hockey player and head coach. In his coaching career in the NHL, he has coached the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, Washington Capitals, San Jose Sharks and Toronto Maple Leafs. He also was head coach of the United States men's national ice hockey team at the 1998 and 2010 Winter Olympics. Wilson holds dual citizenship of the United States and Canada. Wilson was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes at the age of 24.

Early years[edit]

Wilson was born in Windsor, Ontario, and raised in Fort Erie, Ontario. He moved from Fort Erie to Riverside, Rhode Island, when he was 12 years old.[1] As a result, Wilson holds dual citizenship of Canada and the United States, and has represented Team USA in both playing and coaching.

Both his father, Larry Wilson, and his uncle, Johnny Wilson played for the Detroit Red Wings in the 1950s and later coached in the NHL.

College hockey[edit]

Providence College (1973-1977)[edit]

Wilson began playing with the Providence Friars in 1973-74, where he led the club in scoring in his rookie season with 16 goals and 38 points in 26 games, helping the Friars reach the ECAC quarter-finals, where they were defeated by Harvard 9-3.

In the 1974-75 season, Wilson broke out offensively, scoring 26 goals and 87 points in 27 games, helping the Friars into the ECAC tournament for the second consecutive season. In the tournament, the Friars would lose in the quarter-finals to Vermont 7-5.

Wilson had another solid season with the Friars in [[1976 ECAC Hockey Men's Ice Hockey Tournament}1975-76]], scoring 19 goals and 66 points in 28 games, however, the team struggled and failed to qualify for the tournament.

In his final season at Providence in 1976-77, Wilson's offense decline, however, he still put up very solid numbers, scoring 17 goals and 59 points in 30 games to lead the team in scoring. Providence qualified for the tournament as the eighth seed, and lost to Clarkson 6-3 in the quarter-finals.

Professional career[edit]

Toronto Maple Leafs (1975-1980)[edit]

Wilson was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the eighth round, 132nd overall at the 1975 NHL Entry Draft. He was also drafted by the Houston Aeros in the 1974 WHA Amateur Draft, however, Wilson signed with the Maple Leafs.

Wilson saw his first professional action in the 1976-77 season after his college hockey career was over, where he appeared in four games with the Dallas Black Hawks of the CHL, scoring a goal.

Wilson began the 1977-78 season with the Black Hawks, where in 67 games, he scored 31 goals and 69 points to lead the team in scoring. He earned a late season promotion to the NHL, and played in 13 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs, scoring two goals and three points. Wilson did not see any playing time in the post-season, as the Maple Leafs lost to the Montreal Canadiens in the third round of the playoffs.

He split the 1978-79 season between the New Brunswick Hawks of the AHL, as in 31 games, Wilson had 11 goals and 32 points, and the Maple Leafs. In Toronto, Wilson played in 46 games, scoring five goals and 17 points. He appeared in three playoff games for the Maple Leafs, earning an assist, as the Leafs lost to the Montreal Canadiens in the quarter-finals.

Wilson spent the majority of the 1979-80 season in New Brunswick, where in 43 games, he scored 20 goals and 63 points to finish fourth in team scoring. He appeared in only five games with the Maple Leafs, earning two assists. Wilson skated for the Leafs in the post-season, where he scored a goal and three points in three games, as Toronto was swept by the Minnesota North Stars in the first round. He returned to the Hawks for the Calder Cup playoffs, and in 14 games, Wilson had three goals and five points, as New Brunswick lost to the Hershey Bears in the final round.

EHC Kloten (1980-1981)[edit]

Wilson signed with EHC Kloten of NDA in Switzerland for the 1980-81, where in 38 games, Wilson scored 22 goals and 45 points.

HC Davos (1981-1985)[edit]

After only one season with EHC Kloten, Wilson signed with HC Davos for the 1981-82 season, as in 38 games, Wilson scored 24 goals and 47 points, helping the team finish in second place.

In 1982-83, Wilson improved his offense to 32 goals and 64 points in 36 games, as HC Davos finished the first round of the season with a league best 20-0-8 record, before slumping to a 3-2-5 record in the final round to finish the season in third place.

Wilson saw more improvement with his offense in 1983-84, scoring 33 goals and 72 points in 36 games, helping HC Davos win the championship.

In 38 games in the 1984-85, Wilson scored 39 goals and 101 points, leading the club to their second straight Swiss championship.

Minnesota North Stars (1984-1985)[edit]

Following his season with HC Davos of the NDA, Wilson signed with the Minnesota North Stars for the remainder of the 1984-85 season. In 13 games, Wilson had four goals and 12 points, helping the club secure the fourth and final playoff position in the Norris Division. In nine playoff games, Wilson had a goal and seven points, as Minnesota swept the first place St. Louis Blues before losing to the Chicago Black Hawks in the division finals.

HC Davos (1985-1986)[edit]

Wilson returned to HC Davos of the NDA for the 1985-86 season after his late season stint with the Minnesota North Stars in 1984-85. In 27 games, Wilson scored 28 goals and 69 points, helping the club into the post-season. In five playoff games, Wilson had six goals and eight points, however, HC Davos lost to HC Lugano in the final round.

Minnesota North Stars (1985-1988)[edit]

For the second consecutive season, Wilson joined the Minnesota North Stars after his season with HC Davos, and finished the 1985-86 with the North Stars, scoring a goal and four points in 11 games, helping the club finish in second place in the Norris Division. In the playoffs, Wilson had two goals and six points in five games, as Minnesota lost to the St. Louis Blues in the division semi-finals.

Wilson remained with the North Stars in 1986-87, as in a career high 65 gaems, Wilson had 12 goals and 41 points to finish second among North Stars defensemen in team scoring, however, the club struggled and failed to qualify for the post-season.

Wilson began the 1987-88 season with the North Stars, where in 24 games, he scored two goals and 14 points. Wilson played in his last NHL game on December 16, 1987, earning an assist in a 4-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. Shortly after the game, the North Stars released Wilson.

HC Davos (1987-1988)[edit]

Following his release from the Minnesota North Stars, Wilson rejoined HC Davos of the NDA to finish the 1987-88 season. In 36 games, Wilson had eight goals and 32 points. In six playoff games, Wilson had two goals and seven points, as HC Davos finished in fourth place.

After the season, Wilson announced his retirement as a player.

Coaching career[edit]

Milwaukee Admirals (1989-1990)[edit]

Wilson joined the Milwaukee Admirals of the IHL as an assistant coach, working under head coach Ron Lapointe. In his only season with the Admirals, the club finished with a 36-39-7 record, finishing in third place in the West Division. In the playoffs, the Admirals lost to the Salt Lake Golden Eagles in the first round.

Vancouver Canucks (1990-1993)[edit]

Wilson joined the Vancouver Canucks coaching staff as an assistant coach under Bob McCammon in the 1990-91 season. After the Canucks struggled to a 19-30-5 record, the club fired McCammon and replaced him with Pat Quinn. Wilson remained as an assistant coach, and under Quinn, the Canucks went 9-13-4 to sneak into the fourth and final playoff spot in the Smythe Division. In the post-season, the Canucks lost to the Los Angeles Kings in six games in the first round.

In 1991-92, Vancouver improved their point total by 31 points, as the team finished the year with a 42-26-12 record, finishing in first place in the Smythe Division. The heavily favoured Canucks managed to defeat the Winnipeg Jets in seven games before falling to the Edmonton Oilers in six games in the Smythe Division finals.

Vancouver improved their point total once again in 1992-93, going 46-29-9, earning 101 points and their second consecutive Smythe Division title. In the playoffs, the Canucks defeated the Winnipeg Jets in the first round before losing to the Los Angeles Kings in the division finals.

After the season, Wilson left the Canucks and became the head coach of the expansion team Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

Anaheim Mighty Ducks (1993-1997)[edit]

Wilson became the first head coach of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks for the 1993-94 season. In his first game as an NHL head coach on October 8, 1993, Wilson lost to the Detroit Red Wings 7-2. He won his first game on October 13, defeating the Edmonton Oilers 4-3. The team finished the season 33-46-5 record, earning 71 points, however, the club failed to reach the post-season.

The Mighty Ducks continued to struggle in the 1994-95 season, as the club finished 16-27-5 in the lockout shortened season to finish with the worst record in the Western Conference.

Anaheim made a big improvement in the 1995-96, as the club went 35-39-8 record, earning 78 points, however, the Mighty Ducks failed to qualify for the playoffs, finishing in ninth place in the conference. They had the same point total as the Winnipeg Jets, however, they lost a tie-breaker, as they finished with one fewer win.

The Mighty Ducks continued their improvement in 1996-97, as the team finished with their first ever winning record, going 36-33-13, and qualified for the post-season for the first time in team history. In the post-season, the Ducks defeated the Phoenix Coyotes in seven games before being swept by the Detroit Red Wings in the second round.

On May 20, 1997, the Mighty Ducks fired Wilson.

Washington Capitals (1997-2002)[edit]

On June 9, 1997, the Washington Capitals hired Wilson to become the head coach of the team, as he replaced Jim Schoenfeld after the club failed to reach the playoffs in 1996-97.

In his first season with the Capitals, Wilson led the team to a 40-30-12 record, which was a 17 point improvement over the previous season, as Washington qualified for the playoffs. In the post-season, the fourth seeded Capitals defeated the Boston Bruins in the first round. Washington then defeated the Ottawa Senators and Buffalo Sabres to reach the 1998 Stanley Cup Finals. In the final round, the Capitals were swept by the Detroit Red Wings, who won their second consecutive Stanley Cup.

Washington struggled badly in the 1998-99 season, going 31-45-6 record, finishing 12th in the Eastern Conference and well out of a playoff spot.

The Capitals rebounded in 1999-2000, as they won the Southeast Division with a 44-24-12-2 record, and finished in second place in the Eastern Conference. In the playoffs, the Capitals were upset by the Pittsburgh Penguins in five games in the first round.

The Capitals won their second consecutive Southeast Division title, going 41-27-10-4, earning 96 points and third place in the Eastern Conference. In the playoffs, the Capitals were once again upset by the Pittsburgh Penguins, as Pittsburgh won the series in six games.

In the summer of 2001, the Capitals acquired Jaromir Jagr from the Pittsburgh Penguins, and were thought to be a contender for the Stanley Cup for the 2001-02. The club struggled for much of the season though, going 36-33-11-2, finishing out of the playoffs, as they were in ninth place in the Eastern Conference.

On May 10, 2002, the Capitals fired Ron Wilson after their disappointing season.

San Jose Sharks (2002-2008)[edit]

On December 4, 2002, Wilson was hired by the San Jose Sharks, who had recently fired Darryl Sutter and had a 9-12-2-2 record at the time Wilson was hired. Under Wilson, the Sharks continued to struggle, going 19-25-7-6, failing to make the playoffs.

In his first full season with San Jose, Wilson turned around the team, leading them to a 43-21-12-6 record, earning 104 points and first place in the Pacific Division, and second place in the Western Conference. In the post-season, the Sharks defeated the St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche to advance to the conference finals. San Jose was favoured to win the series, however, the Calgary Flames with newly acquired goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff, who was acquired by the Flames from San Jose, upset the Sharks in six games.

Wilson remained with the Sharks during the 2004-05 season, which was cancelled due to the 2004-05 NHL lockout.

The Sharks remained a top team in 2005-06 when play resumed, as the club went 44-27-11, earning 99 points. In mid-season, the Sharks were involved in a trade that brought Joe Thornton to the club from the Boston Bruins. In the playoffs, the Sharks defeated the Nashville Predators in the first round, before falling to the eighth seeded Edmonton Oilers in the second round.

San Jose continued to improve in 2006-07, as the team won 50 games for the first time in club history, going 51-26-5, earning 107 points, and another playoff berth. In the post-season, the Sharks defeated the Nashville Predators for the second straight season, however, the lost to the Detroit Red Wings in the second round. With his loss to the Red Wings, Wilson became the first head coach in NHL history to lose to the same team while coaching three different teams (Anaheim in 1997 and Washington in 1998 both lost to the Red Wings).

The Sharks improved their point total again in 2007-08, as they went 49-23-10, earning 108 points and having the best record in the Pacific Division, earning the second seed in the Western Conference. In the post-season, the Sharks narrowly defeated the Calgary Flames in seven games before losing to the underdog Dallas Stars in five games in the second round.

On May 12, 2008, the Sharks fired Wilson, as the club did not meet expectations in the playoffs.

Toronto Maple Leafs (2008-2012)[edit]

On June 10, 2008, the Toronto Maple Leafs hired Wilson to become head coach, replacing Paul Maurice. The Maple Leafs had not made the playoffs since 2003-04.

In Wilson's first year with the Leafs in 2008-09, the rebuilding club went 34-35-13, earning 81 points, finishing last in the Northeast Division, and 12th in the Eastern Conference.

The Maple Leafs continued to struggle in 2009-10, finishing with a 30-38-14 record, earning 74 points, and a last place finish in the Eastern Conference. Before the season, the Maple Leafs traded away their first round pick to the Boston Bruins for Phil Kessel, and added defenseman Dion Phaneuf to the club midway through the season.

Toronto saw some improvement in 2010-11, as the Leafs finished with an above .500 record under Wilson for the first time, going 37-34-11, earning 85 points. The club failed to reach the playoffs though, as they were in 10th place in the Eastern Conference.

In 2011-12, which was the final year of Wilson's contract, the Leafs got off to a good start to the season. On December 26, 2011, the team had a 18-13-4 record and sitting in a playoff position, and Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke signed Wilson to a contract extension. Shortly after the contract extension, the Leafs started losing again, as they would go 11-15-3 in their next 29 games to fall out of the playoffs. On March 2, 2012, the Maple Leafs fired Wilson, as the team had an overall record of 29-28-7, replacing him with recently fired Anaheim Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle.

International career[edit]

Wilson first coached internationally at the 1996 IIHF World Championship in Vienna, where he guided the United States to a bronze medal, the country's first medal at the tournament in 34 years. Later that year, he was named the team's coach at the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, where he led the Americans to the tournament championship.

Following this success, Wilson again coached the Americans at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, where they went a disappointing 1-3, beating only Belarus and being eliminated by the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals.

In April 2009 he was named the head coach for the U.S. Olympic hockey team for the 2010 Winter Olympics. The team went undefeated through round robin play and advanced through the knockout stages, losing to Canada in the final in overtime. The team won the silver medal.[2]

Coaching style[edit]

As a coach, Wilson is well known for integrating technology into his coaching plans. During his stint with the Washington Capitals, he and assistant coach Tim Hunter introduced personal computers into the team's strategy planning and burned DVDs of Capitals games for the team to review. In his stint with the San Jose Sharks, Wilson introduced a tablet computer to be used in the team bench by himself or his assistants to instantly plan out strategies and review plays.[3]

Coaching record[edit]

Team Year Regular season Post season
G W L T OTL Pts Finish Result
Mighty Ducks of Anaheim 1993–94 84 33 46 5 - 71 4th in Pacific Missed playoffs
1994–95 48 16 27 5 - 37 6th in Pacific Missed playoffs
1995–96 82 35 39 8 - 78 4th in Pacific Missed playoffs
1996–97 82 36 33 13 - 85 2nd in Pacific Lost in second round
Washington Capitals 1997–98 82 40 30 12 - 92 3rd in Atlantic Lost in Cup Finals
1998–99 82 31 45 6 - 68 4th in Southeast Missed playoffs
1999–2000 82 44 24 12 2 102 1st in Southeast Lost in first round
2000–01 82 41 27 10 4 96 1st in Southeast Lost in first round
2001–02 82 36 33 11 2 85 2nd in Southeast Missed playoffs
San Jose Sharks 2002–03 57 19 25 7 6 73 5th in Pacific Missed playoffs
2003–04 82 43 21 12 6 104 1st in Pacific Lost in Conf. Champ
2005–06 82 44 27 - 11 99 2nd in Pacific Lost in second round
2006–07 82 51 26 - 5 107 2nd in Pacific Lost in second round
2007–08 82 49 23 - 10 108 1st in Pacific Lost in second round
Toronto Maple Leafs 2008–09 82 34 35 - 13 81 5th in Northeast Missed playoffs
2009–10 82 30 38 - 14 74 5th in Northeast Missed playoffs
2010–11 82 37 34 - 11 85 4th in Northeast Missed playoffs
2011–12 64 29 28 - 7 65 Fired
Total 1401 648 561 101 91 1510

See also[edit]

Awards and honors[edit]

Award Year
All-ECAC Hockey First Team 1974–75
AHCA East All-American 1974–75
All-ECAC Hockey First Team 1975–76
AHCA East All-American 1975–76
All-ECAC Hockey Second Team 1976–77


  1. ^ Hornby, Lance (June 10, 2008). "Welcome to the jungle". CANOE -- SLAM! Sports. 
  2. ^ Wilson to Coach Olympic Hockey Team ESPN, April 3, 2009
  3. ^ Dean, Katie (April 20, 2004). "With a DVR, the Puck Stops Here". Wired News. 

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Vic Stanfield
ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Year
Succeeded by
Bob Miller
Preceded by
Randy Roth
ECAC Hockey Player of the Year
Succeeded by
Peter Brown