Fittingly, Sharks Honoring Blackhawks Legend Doug Wilson Tonight

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Fittingly, Sharks Honoring Blackhawks Legend Doug Wilson Tonight

Chicago Blackhawks

Before the Blackhawks and Sharks jump on the ice tonight in San Jose, the Sharks will have a special ceremony to honor an individual who has had, without question, the most significant impact on the history of their franchise.

Doug Wilson joined the Sharks organization via trade, from the Blackhawks, on Sept. 6, 1991. He was named the first captain of the expansion franchise and appeared in 86 games over two seasons to finish his terrific career with the baby of an organization.

Eighty-six games at the end of a wonderful career. But he made an impact on the ice and helped establish the on-ice culture.

Wilson would take on a much more significant role in the culture of the organization on May 13, 2003, when he was named the team’s general manager — a job he held until April 7 of this year. Almost 20 years in a role, the second-longest tenured GM in the league (behind Nashville’s David Poile).

It wasn’t until Wilson was forced to take a medical leave of absence last November that there was even a conversation. He stepped down in April. And tonight, the Sharks will hang a banner in Wilson’s honor. Something he absolutely earned.

And it’s absolutely appropriate that they’re facing the Blackhawks when it happens.

Wilson was one of the best defensemen in the entire NHL during the 1980s, putting up big numbers on talented Blackhawks teams that never got over the hump and won it all. He had a booming shot and played the game with his brain as well as his skill. During his 14 seasons in Chicago, Wilson produced 779 points (225 goals, 554 assists) in 938 regular-season games.

Where does Wilson rank in Blackhawks history?

  • Games Played — 9th overall (938)
  • Assists — 4th overall (554)
  • Points — 7th overall (779)

What about among Blackhawks defensemen?

  • Games Played — 4th (behind Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Bob Murray)
  • Goals — 1st (and he scored 93 more than Murray, who ranks second)
    Wilson’s 225 career goals are more than Keith (105) and Seabrook (103) combined!
  • Assists — 1st
  • Points — 1st (he’s 154 points ahead of Keith)
  • Even Strength Goals — 1st
    Again, Wilson’s 136 is more than Keith (70) and Seabrook (63) combined!
  • Short-Handed Goals — 1st
  • Game-Winning Goals — 1st

He won the Norris Trophy for his fabulous performance during the 1981-82 season, during which he scored 39 goals — as a defenseman. He scored 24 goals that season at even strength, a feat that we might not see matched by a single forward on this year’s Blackhawks team.

So… yeah, if the Blackhawks had a Mount Rushmore of defensemen, Wilson would be in the mix without question. If I was putting together a Mount Rushmore of Blackhawks defensemen, it would be Wilson, Pierre Pilote, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook (though I totally understand there are strong cases to be made for Murray, Chris Chelios and Keith Magnuson).

When he left, Wilson took some fans with him. And, like other players from that era like Steve Larmer, his career has been taken for granted by historians because his Blackhawks teams never won big.

Maybe it was fitting irony, maybe it was just the Hockey Hall of Fame needing someone to remind them that Wilson was elite. It took 24 years — Wilson’s number in Chicago — for him to be elected into the Hall of Fame in Toronto. For those who watched him, that was about 20 years too long.

Wilson doesn’t have a banner in Chicago. There are a few players who probably should but don’t — yet. And, with all due respect to the new guys on the broadcast crew, it’s an absolute shame that we won’t have Pat Foley on the mic to remind us of just how great Wilson was on the blue line at the old barn.

But tonight, it’s fitting that Blackhawks fans will be able to watch and show some appreciation for a man who is one of the organization’s all-time greats.

Author: Tab Bamford

Tab is the Lead Blackhawks voice for BN. He is the author of two books about the Blackhawks, most recently "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter at @The1Tab