USA Hockey has hired Wilson to be the coach of the 2016 United States World Junior team when they head to Helsinki for the tournament this winter. This is the first time he’s coached US Hockey since leading the Americans to silver at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. He also coached the team in 1998.
The Windsor native began his coaching career with the Milwaukee Admirals in the International Hockey League, where he served as an assistant coach under Ron Lapointe. He then became an assistant coach in the NHL with the Vancouver Canucks, working with Bob McCammon in the 1990-1991 season before Pat Quinn was brought on board.
Wilson’s first head coaching job in the NHL was with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim for the 1993-1994 season. He finished his first season with a 33-46-5 record.
Wilson subsequently spent time with the Washington Capitals and San Jose Sharks before being hired by the Maple Leafs in 2008 to replace Paul Maurice. The team continued its well-advertised struggles with the new bench boss and Wilson was fired in March of 2012 after the Leafs posted a terrible 11-15-3 record after he was signed to a contract extension.
In 1,401 NHL games, Wilson has certainly had his ups and downs. One wonders if this tenure with Team USA at the Juniors will allow him to get another foothold in the NHL. It worked for one Kevin Dineen, who saw success with the Canadian women’s team at Sochi and was subsequently hired as an assistant by the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Americans are hoping for a bit of a turnaround with their U-20 team and Wilson could be the man for the job. They finished in fifth place in 2015 and 2014, having won gold in 2013 and 2010. Expectations are high for Helsinki.
Another note: this is a bit of a demotion for Wilson, who will become the first coach to go from the NHL to take the US World Junior gig. USA Hockey has usually looked to hire college coaches or others within the depths of the program.