May 15, 1970 |
Calgary, AB, CAN
|Height||5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)|
|Weight||180 lb (82 kg; 12 st 12 lb)|
|Played for||Boston Bruins
Detroit Red Wings
|NHL Draft||57th overall, 1989
Wesley Walz (born May 15, 1970 in Calgary, Alberta) is a retired Canadian professional ice hockey player and former assistant coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning of the National Hockey League (NHL). Currently, Walz works as a volunteer assistant coach with the Raptors of East Ridge High School, Woodbury, Minnesota. There he coaches his son Kelvin on the boys varsity ice hockey team. Previously, he played centre for the Minnesota Wild of the NHL and served as team captain. Walz played in 607 NHL games in 11 seasons with Boston, Philadelphia, Calgary, Detroit, and Minnesota. He had 260 points (109 goals, 151 assists) and 343 penalty minutes and earned 40 career multi-point games.
Walz was drafted by the Boston Bruins 57th overall in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft. At the time, he was playing for the Lethbridge Hurricanes of the Western Hockey League (WHL), a team for which he played two seasons, playing 119 games and scoring 83 goals and 161 assists for 244 points in that span. For the next seven seasons, Walz was a fringe NHLer, playing a good chunk of his time in the American Hockey League (AHL). He averaged better than a point per game in the AHL, and was named MVP of the 1996 AHL All-Star Game, but it never got him a full-time NHL job. He did manage to score a career-high 38 points in 53 games for the Calgary Flames in 1993–94, but in 1996 he left North American Hockey for the Swiss league.
After four seasons in Switzerland, Walz returned to North America by signing a contract with the expansion Minnesota Wild. During training camp for the Wild, Walz displayed an extremely hard work ethic and seemingly unstoppable amount of energy on the ice. Due to his efforts, Wild head coach Jacques Lemaire almost immediately dubbed Walz as his "checker", placing him primarily on the checking line. This was a turning point in Walz's career, as he became not only a full-time NHL player with Minnesota, but also one of the league's best defensive forwards and considered by many as one of the league's premier "ironmen" comparable with players such as Rod Brind'Amour. In his first season back, Walz played all 82 regular season games, scoring 18 goals of which seven were shorthanded. When the Wild made the playoffs in 2003, Walz was there helping them make it all the way to the Western Conference Finals, scoring seven goals and six assists in 18 games.
On November 1, 2007, Walz left the team due to personal reasons. On November 8, 2007, he was granted an indefinite leave of absence by the Wild. On December 1, 2007, The Minnesota Wild held a press conference where Walz announced his retirement. Walz retired as the franchise's leader in all-time games played, although is now third behind Marian Gaborik and Nick Schultz.
In June 2008, Walz signed a three-year contract to become an assistant coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning under head coach Barry Melrose. Though Melrose was fired only 16 games into his tenure with the Lightning, Walz was retained as a member of the coaching staff under new head coach Rick Tocchet. During his tenure in Tampa Bay, Tocchet asked Walz to personally tutor former number one draft pick Steven Stamkos. In an interview, Stamkos told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, "It was pretty special that he took the time to work with me and make me a better player, and I’m thankful for it."
In February 2010, Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Brian Lawton informed Walz that he was being replaced by Jim Johnson, then head coach of the Lightning's AHL affiliate, the Norfolk Admirals. In turn, Lawton offered Walz the opportunity to take Johnson's place as head coach of the Admirals. When Walz declined due to family reasons, Lawton dismissed him from the organization. Later, it was revealed that Lawton made the change without consulting Tocchet. Walz is currently the head coach of the East Ridge high school girls' hockey team in Woodbury, Minnesota.
- Wild, Walz to hold press conference Saturday
- Former Wild captain Walz retires
- Walz joins Tampa as Melrose's assistant
- Barry Melrose fired by Tampa Bay after 16 games
- Walz eager to coach again
- Stamkos talks Walzie
- Lightning fire Walz, add Jim Johnson to coaching staff
- Tampa Bay Lightning coach Rick Tocchet said he wasn't consulted about staff change
|Minnesota Wild captain
|Minnesota Wild captain