Doug Wilson

Doug Wilson is best known for his booming slapshot from the Chicago Blackhawks point. But there is so much more to the Doug Wilson story than his big shot.

Born on July 5, 1957, in Ottawa, he would go on to be a star with his hometown 67's prior to making the jump to the National Hockey League. In just 105 junior games, he recorded 51 goals and 116 assists for an amazing 167 points for the all star defenseman. He added 9 goals and 30 assists in 31 games in the playoffs.

His outstanding junior career convinced the Chicago Blackhawks to take him 6th overall in the 1977 NHL entry draft. With the likes of Denis Savard, Al Secord, and Steve Larmer, Wilson was the final piece of the Norris Division powerhouse.

Wilson would step right in and contribute. He was a solid two-way defenseman. Although never a big nor bruising defender, Wilson knew how to effectively play the body and clear the front of his net, and unlike many other skill defenseman of his era he willingly did so. He was sound positionally in the defensive zone, and, complimented by his great skating ability, had a great knack offensively. Like Al MacInnis after him, Wilson was known for the big slapshot, but was truly a complete defenseman.

Doug, who followed older brother Murray to the NHL, was able to accomplish some amazing this in Chicago. He recorded at least 10 goals on 12 occasions while in Chicago and posted more than 40 points in a season 11 times Doug's best season was his 5th, (1981-82) when he was awarded the James Norris Trophy as the leagues best defenseman. He set Blackhawk records for most goals scored in a season by a defenseman with 39 and for most points in a season by a defenseman with 85.

For the next four seasons the Blackhawks were the team to beat in the Norris Division. Unfortunately for Doug and his mates, the mighty Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames were in the same conference, thus playoff success was limited to divisional play.

Wilson and the Hawks would make it to Finals in 1992 only to meet Mario Lemieux's Penguins and were quickly eliminated.

Despite the lack of playoff success, Doug loved playing in Chicago

"“It was wonderful. The city of Chicago, the hockey fans there, and to play in Chicago Stadium was something that everybody should have experienced. It was a tremendous relationship in that building and it’s been well documented. I just loved playing there. You’ve got to understand … I had Stan Mikita as my first roommate, I had Bobby Orr as a defence partner, and the type of people that I played with … the Keith Magnusons, Tony Espositos, and people like that. Denis Savard, Steve Larmer, the list just goes on. The friendships that I have from that time frame go way beyond hockey. I mean they’re just wonderful people that I spent some great years with.”

On September 6, 1991, Doug was traded to the San Jose Sharks and was instantly named team captain. His leadership helped the Sharks in their first couple of years and gave them tremendous respect.

Doug really enjoyed his short stay in San Jose.

"It really was special. I was very fortunate in that I had the opportunity to pick where I wanted to go because of a unique clause that I had in my contract. I had a no-trade clause in Chicago. And it was my choice to leave and to go where I wanted to go. And, having played all my career in Chicago, what was fascinating to me was to be in the ground floor of something brand new and to help build a franchise on and off the ice. And it was kind of like being a pioneer. We had a group of guys that first year that was one of the closest groups of players that I’ve ever played with. They’re still very close friends that I think has enabled this franchise to really have a solid and tremendous relationship with their fans right from day one. The Kelly Kisios, the Dean Evasons, the Rob Zettlers, the Jeff Odgers. We just had a great group out here. And I loved it. It was a challenge and it was very difficult but it was well worth the energy that was needed.”

By the time Doug retired he had recorded 237 goals, 590 assists and 827 points in 1,024 regular season games plus he totalled 80 points in 95 playoff contests. He was a three time post season all star and participated in 7 NHL all star games, 1 Canada Cup and Rendez Vous '87.

In fact, Doug told that winning the Canada Cup in 1984 was his greatest highlight of his glorious career.

“I think winning the Canada Cup in ’84. As an athlete, you always want to play with the best against the best. And to have won that and to have scored the tying goal to send it into overtime … with Gretzky and Larry Robinson and all the guys that we played with. I mean it was truly best on best. But I think from an athlete’s point of view, it was what you truly strive for. The KLM line was intact at that time, so they were still at the top of their game, and to win it in Canada … it was a great experience.”

During his career he also served as president of the NHL Players Association and also formed an NHL Alumni Association. Upon retiring he worked for the NHLPA before returning to the Sharks organization as director of player development.

Despite having one of the most impressive resumes of any hockey player in his era, Doug Wilson is seemingly forgotten about when discussing great defensemen of his era or any other. He deserves that consideration, although the Blackhawks lack of success compared to that of fellow western powerhouse Edmonton Oilers really dimmed the bright lights that could have shone on many of the Hawks players, including Wilson, Steve Larmer and even to a degree superstar Denis Savard.


Anonymous,  1:00 PM  

There was a time that I had the opportunity to meet Doug and his wife who was a local school teacher in the western suburbs of Chicago, must say they were both tremendous people who really cared about their community.
Now to Doug's game, he was the hardest working player on the ice & had the most powerful slapshot, (even harder than Bobby Hulls') also had a knack for always shooting at the net to create the scoring chances and he helped make the Hawks during that period a threat to win every game.

Anonymous,  10:16 PM  

He will always be the greatest to my family.Could skate like no other. And what a slapshot...

MikeChili 11:41 PM  

Great post. I skated with Doug's son at the Darien Huskies AA hockey club a few years back when i was a pee-wee in the south west suburbs of Chicago. Really cool guy, he would assistant coach so it was pretty sweet to have a pro on the bench calling the d lines.

Anonymous,  5:49 AM  

Wilson was traded before the Blackhawks reached the finals in 1992.

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