The WGN cameras went to the press box a few times during the Chicago Blackhawks 7-2 dismantling Thursday night at the hands of the San Jose Sharks. At one point, they focused on San Jose general manager Doug Wilson, sitting in a suit by himself and leading Hawks play-by-play announcer Pat Foley to declare that Wilson looked like he could still play.
And Foley was probably right. Because well before he took over as the Sharks GM in 2013, Wilson was an absolute star for the Hawks.
The No. 6 overall pick in the 1977 NHL Entry Draft, Wilson made his NHL debut that fall and played in 77 games while notching 34 points during his rookie season. He was an incredible offensive defenseman, one of the rare players who could be relied upon to play solid defense while also finding ways to contribute on the offensive end of the ice. Of all the effective weapons in Wilson’s arsenal, though, his booming slapshot was by far the most lethal, something that plays a starring role in the highlight video below:
In 14 seasons, Wilson played in 938 games for the Hawks, scoring 225 goals and adding 554 assists for a total of 779 points that ranks sixth in Blackhawks history. He’s also No. 3 in franchise history for assists, No. 7 in games played, No. 7 in power play goals (80), and is the franchise leader in shots on goal with 3,060.
Wilson’s numbers peaked in the 1981-82 seasons when he scored 39 goals and added 46 assists (still single-season records for a Chicago defenseman) as part of his All-Star season that made him the second Norris Trophy winner in Blackhawks history, following Pierre Pilote.
On September 6, 1991, Wilson was traded to San Jose by Chicago for a second-round pick (which would be traded to Winnipeg and become future Blackhawk Boris Mironov) and was immediately named captain of the NHL’s newest franchise. Wilson played two seasons in San Jose before retiring in 1993.
Wilson played his entire 16-year career without a helmet, just barely making it in ahead of the rule preceding the 1979-80 season that made helmets mandatory. But any players who signed contracts prior to that season were allowed to play without a helmet, and Wilson utilized that option. But that didn’t stop Wilson from talking Jeremy Roenick out of going helmet-less for the 1994 NHL All-Star Game.
“Doug Wilson talked me out of it when we went out Friday night,” Roenick said of the former Hawks defenseman. “I respect Doug a lot. He’s a first-class guy and he told me to wear the helmet for the good of the game and myself.”
Craig MacTavish, who retired in 1997, was the last NHL player to suit up in a game without a helmet.