Thursday, August 11, 2011

Coach Spotlight: Ron Wilson

[Player Spotlight Archive]

Instead of focusing on a player today, given this week's announcement by the Canadiens, we'll look at a member of the organization's coaching staff.

Ron Wilson, who is in the unfortunate and confusing position of sharing a name (but no relation) with the head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, was named by Pierre Gauthier this week as an assistant coach to Clement Jodoin with the Hamilton Bulldogs for the upcoming season. There was a vacancy to be filled since both Randys - Cunneyworth and Ladouceur - were promoted to jobs with the NHL team.

So, who is THIS Ron Wilson? Well if the news sounds familiar to you, that's because it isn't Mr. Wilson's first spin in the organization, having held an assistant coaching role with these same Bulldogs from 2003-04 through 2008-09 (when he also briefly stepped in as head coach). He then spent 2 seasons with the Chicago Wolves, before now returning to Hamilton. In all, he has coached an impressive 1,194 games at the American Hockey League level and won 2 Calder Cups - with Saint John in 2000-01 and with the Bulldogs in 2006-07.

Born in Toronto, Wilson played junior hockey in what was then the OHA, and was drafted by the Canadiens in 1976. After spending time with the team's AHL affiliate (then the Nova Scotia Voyageurs), Wilson was dealt to the Winnipeg Jets where he made his NHL debut at the age of 23. Despite strong first seasons of 57 and 51 points respectively, inconsistencies in his game were evident, and he soon found himself battling for ice time. After 11 seasons of bouncing around between the Jets in the National League and various farm clubs, he found full-time employment with the St. Louis Blues midway through the 1989-90 campaign and spent the following three seasons there. Wilson would finally get to play for the Habs in the final year of his NHL career, 1993-94 (sadly missing a Cup ring by one season), during which he scored 12 points in 48 games. In all, he played 832 regular season games in the National Hockey League, finishing with 110 goals and 216 assists for 326 points.

Following his time in the NHL, Wilson would play 2 years in the IHL and one in the ECHL before immediately retiring to take a job as an AHL assistant coach with the Springfield Falcons. He has remained in the league since, building an impressive resume, to the point where one would imagine it's only a matter of time before someone gives him a look for an NHL post. Wouldn't it be funny to see Ron Wilson as an assistant coach to... Ron Wilson... some day?!

In the meanwhile, his wealth of experience will be a welcome addition to the Bulldogs' staff in helping prepare the next generation of future Montreal Canadiens to make the leap. In Jodoin and Wilson, the Habs have put in place two guys very familiar with the organization and with sterling records for developing young talent.

Side Note: A story hit the internet last night that the Canadiens might have signed Swedish defenseman Robin Olsson. This was confirmed to be false later in the evening. The Habs still need to add a blueliner for the Hamilton Bulldogs, but it sounds like Olsson is not their man.

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