Sharks Alumni: Wilson’s impact from the ice to the front office

OCTOBER 23: Defense Doug Wilson #24 of the San Jose Sharks warms up prior to a game on October 23, 1992 against the Buffalo Sabres. (Photo by Harry Scull Jr./Getty Images)
OCTOBER 23: Defense Doug Wilson #24 of the San Jose Sharks warms up prior to a game on October 23, 1992 against the Buffalo Sabres. (Photo by Harry Scull Jr./Getty Images) /

Shark general manager Doug Wilson is set to be inducted into the Hall of Fame next year.

This honor comes purely for his playing career, which means the overwhelming majority of the accolades were done in a Blackhawks uniform. But that does not discount the impact that San Jose has on his hockey journey.

On the ice, Doug Wilson shined from start to finish. In the 1977 NHL draft, he was the sixth overall selection. He went on to play in the league for 14 seasons, playing in seven all-star games and winning the Norris trophy in 1981-1982.

Later in his career, he played his final two seasons with the expansion San Jose Sharks. He was named the first captain in franchise history and was the first Shark to be named to an all-star game.

Wilson spoke on his early experiences in the Bay Area with Sharks play by play broadcaster Randy Hahn last June.

"“What was amazing about that decision was the opportunity to be on the ground floor of something brand new, and to be like a pioneer and go to the beautiful Cow Palace,” Wilson said. “But it was a really challenging, incredible opportunity. Easy for me to make that decision.”"

The move was hard for Wilson’s family, especially his wife, born and raised in Chicago. Taking his family from a place of familiarity to a new world in San Jose.

But the bay quickly became a big part of their lives as he took a front-office job with the team. He worked in player development through the ’90s and into the early 2000s.

By 2003 he worked his way up to the general manager position, and his significant impact continued.

Wilson’s best moves for the franchise include trading for Joe Thornton and drafting Joe Pavelski.

In the last 20 years, no general manager has won more regular-season games or accumulated more standing points than Doug Wilson. He has built 15 playoff teams that have played in 30 rounds, tied only with the Pittsburgh Penguins. However, it is failure that ultimately drives Doug Wilson to stay competitive.

"“It drives you every day,” Wilson said. “You want to compete, you want to put the best team on the ice every year. We have four Stanley Cups in our family. Unfortunately, my brother has them all. But it’s that journey for that. When you see a player like Joe Thornton… that’s what drives you. The want and willingness to compete. And that’s why it’s so important to have owners like we’ve had and like we have in Mr. [Hasso] Plattner, who’s commited to that.”"

Last season the team did not further the perennial success that Sharks fans have become accustomed to. Wilson made clear the disappointment he felt last season while talking with Randy Hahn.

"“When you miss the playoffs, it hurts and it runs deep,” Wilson said. “Everybody in our organization understands where we want to get back to, but that is the driving force in this business. You’ve got to be prepared from day one of training and camp as the year progresses, grow as a team and get better. But there’s no doubt that’s what drives all of us in this game.”"

As he looks to celebrate his induction into the Hall of Fame, hopefully, he will be able to celebrate his first Stanley Cup soon.