As he prepares to take the stage at Meridian Hall in Toronto to deliver his Hockey Hall of Fame induction speech on Monday night, Doug Wilson will undoubtedly have spent time thinking about his journey and all those who have influenced his life and career.
Wilson will have thought of the people who helped shape him as a person and as a player—like his father Douglas, older brother Murray, junior hockey coach Brian Kilrea, and his early Chicago Blackhawks teammates Stan Mikita, Tony Esposito, and Keith. magnuson
“There are some men who are very close, dear and dear to me, who are sadly not with us, and who may be here in spirit, if not physically,” Wilson said of his father and Mikita, Esposito, and Magnuson.
But Wilson will also ponder how his family – his four children and numerous grandchildren, and especially his wife, Kathy – have impacted his life on and off the ice.
“There’s no way my father’s career would be what it was without my mother,” said Doug Wilson Jr. “My dad always tells us that the year he won the Norris Cup was the year he met and married my mom. And that’s when his career began.”
It was fitting, then, for Wilson to get a phone call from Hockey Hall of Fame president Lanny McDonald on June 24, 2020, to say he was elected in his 24th eligibility year, he picked Kathy off the line. can share the news together.
Wilson’s house was full of their children and grandchildren that day.
“They always say behind a good man there’s always a great woman, and that’s how you describe Kathy Wilson,” said Denis Savard, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000. “She is a wonderful woman. Raised a lot of beautiful children and now grandchildren.
“They don’t see it as a job, but we are working. I was very well-groomed, believe me, and today I am no different.”
When Doug Wilson decided in 1991, after 14 seasons with the Blackhawks, that he wanted to end his career with the Sharks, Kathy was totally involved. At this point the couple had four young children named Lacey, Dougie, Chelsea and Charlie who were 7, 5, 3 and 1 years old at the time.
“He didn’t know anyone when we moved to California,” Doug Wilson said of Kathy. “I had 22 new teammates and he was a pioneer. It was pretty cool that he was able to do that and say ‘let’s go’.”
As a little boy, Wilson was used to running around.
His father was in the Royal Canadian Air Force and the family lived in parts of Europe for a time, such as Germany and England, before returning to Canada.
Wilson played for the Winnipeg Clubs in the 1973-1974 season at the age of 16 before his family returned to Ottawa.
Former Ottawa 67s coach Kilrea, himself a Hockey Hall of Fame, was close with the Wilson family. Before running the future Sharks general manager from 1974 to 1977, he was friends with his father and coached Murray from 1967 to 1971.
Kilrea was impressed by Douglas’ knowledge of the game passed on to Murray and Doug and hired him to be a scout in the ’67s.
“(Douglas) was almost like a big brother,” Kilrea told Murray and Doug. “He let them enjoy life, but there were rules, and those were rules you shouldn’t go through. But I think Doug Sr. was like a big brother to both Murray and Doug.”
Kilrea told Murray’s younger brother that he “must stay away from certain things.” Little hints about the right time and wrong time to do something, or the right time and wrong time to say something. I think the guidance from Murray will help him a lot.”
“Obviously my brother was a huge influence trying to follow in his footsteps,” Wilson said. “Brian Kilrea has had a huge, huge impact on my life in many ways. Not just as a coach, but also as a life teacher.”
Doug Wilson went to the NHL and won the Norris Trophy in 1982, the last year Douglas was alive. He was 52 years old.
“It shook our family. I was devastated. I may have gone over the edge. I was screwed,” Wilson said. Bob Verdi of Blackhawks.com last year. “(Mikita) and (Magnuson) were there for me like you wouldn’t believe. He has helped me in more ways than I can count. But that was how it was.”
Wilson Jr. said there is a picture in his family home that shows the day his father was drafted by the Hawks.
“She got a call and it had my grandfather in the background,” Wilson Jr. said. “I know this is one of my father’s most cherished things because he had to be with his father on that day of enlistment.”
Wilson said he would think of his father when Jarome Iginla, Kevin Lowe, Marian Hossa, Kim St-Pierre and Ken Holland were officially admitted to the Salon on Monday night.
“Obviously, there’s a group of people who aren’t with us, and that’s part of life… it gets you,” Wilson said, trying to think for a moment. “It makes you realize how lucky you are to have people who have contributed to your life in the past.
“I talked to the Mikita family for a while, and we obviously lost Tony Esposito recently as well. These are difficult things. But you know what they mean to you.”
Wilson played his 1,000th NHL game on November 21, 1992, when the Sharks hosted the Blackhawks at Cow Palace and climbed the Zamboni for their children’s special pre-game presentation. 11-71-2 season.
Now, in Toronto, Kathy, who is part of a group of more than 50 people, is with her kids and children to see her receive this honor.
Wilson Jr. “I don’t think it’s really sunk yet,” he said earlier this week. “I think when he’s really on stage and he’s in Toronto on the weekend, then I think he’s going to hit everybody.
“He’s my best friend. I’m so happy for him. He’s deserved it for a long time and I’m so excited that the whole family can be there for him.”