On June 24, the Hockey Hall of Fame announced two former Chicago Blackhawks players as members of the 2020 class: right wing Marian Hossa and defenseman Doug Wilson. Wilson played for the Blackhawks and the San Jose Sharks throughout his 16-year career.
Wilson was drafted sixth overall by the Blackhawks in 1977. He went on to play for Chicago for 14 years, from 1977-1991. In that timespan, he became known for his strong slap shot, offensive capabilities, and stellar defense. Wilson, in 938 games played for the Blackhawks, had 225 goals, 554 assists, and 779 points. Those stats put him in the top-10 in team history in games played, assists, and points.
Most fans are familiar with his outstanding contributions as a player, which is reflected by his career plus/minus, which was a plus-55. But, Wilson is otherwise known for being the current general manager (GM) of the Sharks.
Wilson was one of the best players to have ever hit the ice. And as it turns out, that’s not the only cool thing about him. Here are some fun facts about Wilson:
1. Family Ties
Wilson’s older brother, Murray, had a successful career in the NHL in which he won four Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadiens. There are some similarities between the brothers.
Murray was a first-round draft pick like Doug was. Murray was drafted 11th overall by the Canadiens as a center in 1971. He also only played for two NHL teams throughout his career, like his brother — Montreal and the Los Angeles Kings. His career in the NHL spanned 7 seasons. In that time frame, he had 94 goals, 95 assists, and 189 points in 386 games.
2. No Stanley Cup
Wilson had an illustrious career that was rewarded in many aspects. He won the Norris Trophy as the league’s best defenseman in 1982. He has a gold medal that he won with Team Canada back in 1984 as part of the Canada Cup. He also had eight All-Star Game appearances. However, Wilson never went on to win the Stanley Cup as a player.
3. 1,000 Games
Besides being one of the 260 NHL players in history to reach 1,000 games played, he has been able to hit that milestone twice.
Wilson has been the Sharks GM since 2003. This has made him the fourth person in NHL history to hit 1,000 games as both a player and GM. He is joined by Bobby Clarke, Bob Gainey, and Bob Pulford.
4. Stan Mikita Connection
Wilson mentioned in an interview posted by Blackhawks TV, that his first roommate in the league was beloved Blackhawks center Stan Mikita. The two had a very close relationship. He was someone that Wilson deemed as a “second father” figure to him. Because Wilson’s father passed away when he was 24, he looked to Mikita as a guiding figure for him. He mentioned how Mikita included him in family events and taught him life lessons that he cherishes to this day.
5. No Helmet, No Problem
In 1979, the NHL implemented that wearing helmets for players was mandatory from there on out. However, players that were signed by teams before the rule was issued were able to opt out of it. This makes Wilson one of the last players to play the game without a helmet. He did so for the entirety of his career, with injuries being the exception. This is what he had to say about it:
I wore one for an entire season, but I never shook the feeling that I was protecting an injury. So I took it off again. Because I knew that if I ever played another season as bad as that one, I probably wouldn’t have a job today.(from ‘The Intransigent 7: A Few NHL Players Still Refuse to Wear a Helmet During Games’, Los Angeles Times – 12/14/1990)
Wilson is on the National Advisory Board for the Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA). According to their website, the PCA is a “national non-profit organization with the mission of creating a positive, character-building youth sports environment that results in better people, better athletes.” Wilson was put in that role back in 2004. He is in good company with the PCA as other professional sport’s coaches like Steve Kerr (NBA) and Kings head coach Todd McLellan are also on the advisory board.
7. Idolized Bobby Orr
Wilson mentioned that Bobby Orr was his idol. Moreover, he also stated that he had his jersey hanging in his office (from ‘G.M. Doug Wilson operates with low-key confidence,’ The Mercury News, 10/06/2008). Wilson and Orr were a defense pairing at one point for the Blackhawks during Orr’s short stint with the team. He appeared in only 26 games from 1977-1979. But it was quite a pairing, as they are now both Hall of Famers.
Wilson knows what it took to accomplish all that he did. Now, he is able to transfer that mindset to his team through his executive duties. And maybe, just maybe, that will be rewarded with something he has been chasing for for over 43 years — the Stanley Cup.