Behn Wilson

Behn was born in Toronto, Ont. Named after his grandfather who was from Scotland thus explaining how he got the H in his name.

When growing up his sports activities never centered around any particular sport. Hockey would eventually become the No. 1 sport for Big Behn. Along with his sports interest was his interest in school as well. When he enrolled at the University of Toronto it was to pursue his interest in pre-medicine. Behn's parents encouraged him to not let sports consume all of his time. When he was in grade 2 he started going to speech and drama courses, something that he really liked. He studied Shakespeare and many of the classical plays. He took Canadian poetry and did phonetics and speech therapy

But when Behn put on his skates his poetry was gone with the wind. He was mean and tough. Opposite players hated to play against Behn, who always was ready to deliver a devastating hit or a sneaky punch. He was a brutally punishing hitter, and smashing fighter. But playing that way every shift is not easy, not even for someone of Wilson's size. He was often criticized letting up on players, especially players significantly smaller than him.

Though he had a reputation as a thug, he actually had the makings of a very good player. He was a good skater for such a big man, blessed with speed and balance, although lacking great agility. He also had a low, heavy slap shot from the point and knew when to pinch in off of the blue line. When he was on his game he was a top four defenseman on any team in the league.

But Wilson was enigmatic, not able to play to his potential many nights. He hurried his decisions, often making bad passes in all three zones which resulted in turnovers and odd man breaks against. As one NHL analyst once said, " Behn Wilson has all the talent and a full deck of cards to go with it. His only problem is the cards are shuffled the wrong way."

Behn played his junior career for three OHA teams between 1975-78: The Ottawa 67's, Windsor Spitfires and Kingston Canadians. He played a total of 163 games in which he scored 154 pts. (35+119) and picked up 470 Pim's.

Philadelphia had traded their veterans Orest Kindrachuk, Ross Lonsberry and Tom Bladon for Pittsburgh's 1st round choice in 1978. Philadelphia liked what they saw in the young defenseman. He not only displayed fine overall skills but was big (6'3" 210 Ibs) and tough as nails, so they used the 1st round choice to select Behn 6th overall in the 1978 draft.

Behn didn't disappoint and had a fine rookie season (1978-79) playing all 80 games scoring 49 points, including 13 goals. He not only contributed fine offensively but also engaged in numerous fights against players like Tiger Williams, Willi Plett and Gary Howatt. He eventually ended up with 197 PIMs in his rookie season. Behn played five seasons for Philadelphia and reached a career high in 1981-82 with 16 goals, 47 assists and 63 points, as well as 237 PIM's.

Behn's reputation however wasn't the best in the league. He was responsible for several questionable altercations and Philadelphia felt it was better for him to move on. He was traded to Chicago in June 1983 for Doug Crossman and Philadelphia's 2nd round choice in 1984 (Scott Mellanby) in the 1984 draft.

Often playing with Keith Brown, Behn continued his hard nosed style of play in Chicago and had three very solid seasons on the Blackhawks blueline before sitting out the entire 1986-87 season with a back injury. He eventually returned for the 1987-88 season but it was evident that his back wasn't 100%. After the season Behn announced his retirement, only 29 years old.

Wilson went into business for himself after hockey. He had been studying economics from the University of Toronto during his off-seasons while still in the NHL.


JKidd 8:50 AM  

Big Behn... by far and away a top 5 fighter for the NHL's all time crown. One of the nastiest upper cut men one could ever get to see, or encounter. Many, many, many knock outs in his illustrious gloves off career. On top of being one of the best, ever, with the mitts off, Behn could play the game. The only knock, as Joe mentions in the bio, is his passing. Most notably, that first pass out of the zone, which is the most critical. One of the best tapes I have, in my entire hockey collection, is my Behn Wilson tape. If anyone hasn't got the honor, find a tape of Behn either playing or fighting, it honestly doesn't get any better.

Anonymous,  10:49 AM  

One of the best fighters in the game and Philadelphis hasn't had a defenseman with that total package since his departure.

Anonymous,  4:18 PM  

Best NHL fighter ever, in my opinion. He was a lazy player, though. He was also hardly anyone's idea of a good teammate.

mchughjj,  6:28 PM  

My memory is that the Flyers traded Behn for his disappointing +- rating more than his thuggery. He turned the puck over a bunch, but he also took untimely penalties (not talking coincidental fighting majors). Whether or not he's the greatest fighter ever in the NHL is something that can't ever be resolved, but he was clearly the league's alpha enforcer by the time he left the point that few wanted any part of him. Still, it's a career left wanting, given his talent to be more than a right uppercut.

Anonymous,  11:48 AM  

Big Behn was my favorite Flyer ever, next to Bobby Clark. Hated to see him go, but all the comments are correct. Great fighter, shot and skating ability, but always made the wrong choice. Phila. has not seen a total package since.

Anonymous,  7:48 AM  

One of the greatest Flyer defenseman .I was sad to see him go .

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