Long-Time Executive Engineered the Most Successful Period in Franchise History
Doug Wilson announced on Thursday April 7, 2022 that he is stepping down from his role as general manager of the San Jose Sharks after 19 years. Photo Credit: San Jose Sharks

San Jose Sharks

SAN JOSE, CA – Doug Wilson announced on Thursday April 7 that he is stepping down from his role as general manager of the San Jose Sharks.

“These past 19 years serving as general manager of the San Jose Sharks have been a privilege and one of the most fulfilling and enjoyable periods of my life,” said Wilson. “I have been incredibly fortunate to work for and with some of the most talented and passionate people in the game of hockey.

“I want to thank Hasso Plattner, along with our previous ownership groups, for the incredible opportunity and the trust they placed in myself and our staff. I want to also thank all of the coaches, players, scouts, trainers and members of the hockey department that I have worked with over these many years for their dedication and commitment to our organization. I want to thank the tremendous fans of the San Jose Sharks franchise. Your enthusiasm and support of this team is unmatched, and I will cherish the shared memories that we have built together over nearly two decades.

“I would not have been able to serve in this role for so long without the unconditional love and support from my family, especially my wife Kathy. The sacrifices that they have made to allow me to pursue this opportunity have been selfless and I cannot thank them enough.

“Finally, I want to thank everyone who has reached out during my leave of absence. While I have made great progress over the last several months, I feel it is in the best interest of the organization and myself to step down from my current duties and focus on my health and full recovery. I look forward to continuing my career in the NHL in the future.”

Wilson, who was named general manager on May 13, 2003, strategically built the Sharks into one of the National Hockey League’s elite franchises through strong drafting, shrewd trades and timely free agent signings. Under his guidance, only the Pittsburgh Penguins (768) and Boston Bruins (762) have won more regular season games than the Sharks (760), and only Boston (1,708) and Pittsburgh (1686) have accumulated more standings points than the Sharks (1,686).

The Sharks qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs 14 times under Wilson, including ten straight appearances (2004-2014). Between 2003-04 and 2019-20, (excluding the lockout-shortened season in 2012-13), the Sharks averaged 45.6 wins per season and 100.7 points per year under his direction.

Additionally, only Pittsburgh has appeared in more Stanley Cup Playoff rounds (31) than the Sharks (30) since 2003-04. Under Wilson’s guidance, the Sharks captured the Presidents’ Trophy (2009), five Pacific Division titles (2004, 2008-11), advanced to the Western Conference Finals on five occasions (2004, 2010, 2011, 2016, 2019) and made one Stanley Cup Final appearance (2016).

During his tenure, Wilson negotiated several block-buster trades to bring some of the game’s elite and most-sought after players to the Sharks organization, including Joe Thornton (2005), Dan Boyle (2008), Dany Heatley (2009), Brent Burns (2011) and Erik Karlsson (2018).

At the draft table, Wilson and his staff selected an impressive list of future NHL standouts, including Milan Michalek and Joe Pavelski (2003), Devin Setoguchi and Marc-Edouard Vlasic (2005), Logan Couture, Nick Bonino and Justin Braun (2007), Charlie Coyle (2010), Tomas Hertl (2012), Timo Meier (2015) and Mario Ferraro (2017).

Due to the team’s consistently strong regular season performance, since 2003 the Sharks hold the lowest average draft position among all NHL clubs (128.0), nearly four spots lower than the next lowest club. Despite that average drafting position, which includes only five top-10 selections (Michalek/6th; Setoguchi/8th; Couture/9th; Meier/9th; Eklund/7th) and none higher than sixth overall, San Jose’s draft selections rank seventh in games played, sixth in goals, tenth in points and 13th in assists among all NHL teams.

In his 18+ seasons leading the Sharks, Wilson ascended the NHL’s all-time lists among general managers. On Jan. 26, 2017, Wilson joined an elite club, becoming the only the fourth individual to play in 1,000 NHL hockey games and to serve as a general manager of an NHL club for at least 1,000 games. The only others to have accomplished the feat were Hockey Hall of Famers Bobby Clarke, Bob Gainey and Bob Pulford (since then accomplished by Bob Murray).

On Oct. 8, 2019, he served his 1,200th game as general manager and five days later, surpassed Conn Smythe (682) for 19th on the NHL’s all-time wins list. He achieved his 700th win on Jan. 4, 2020 and currently sits 14th on the all-time general manager wins list (760). Wilson ranks seventh on the NHL’s all-time list among general managers for most wins with one franchise and is one of two active NHL general managers to have served at least 1,300 games with their current NHL Club (David Poile, 1,799 with Nashville). He was the second-longest serving NHL general manager with their current team (behind Poile) and was the fourth-longest serving amongst all active NHL general managers (behind Poile, Lou Lamoriello and Ken Holland).

Wilson joined the Sharks hockey operations department as director of pro development in 1997-98 and served in that role until he was named general manager.

As a player, Wilson was acquired by the Sharks just prior to the team’s inaugural season in 1991, bringing instant credibility and respect to the young franchise. He played two seasons for the Sharks, serving as the organization’s first captain and scoring 48 points (12 goals, 36 assists) in 86 games. He was the team’s first representative in the NHL All-Star Game (1991-92) and played in his NHL-milestone 1,000th game on Nov. 21, 1992, becoming the 77th player in League history to accomplish the feat. Additionally, he was named the Sharks nominee for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy twice (1992 and 1993), presented for leadership and humanitarian contributions on and off the ice.

Prior to coming to San Jose, Wilson established himself as one of the most dynamic defensemen to ever play the game with the Chicago Blackhawks. Amongst all-time NHL defensemen, Wilson ranks 12th in goals (237), 15th in points (827) and 18th in assists (590). In addition, he holds the fourth-highest single-season record for goals by a defenseman (39, in 1981-82), is tied for ninth among defensemen for most points-per-game (.81, min. 500 games), and 12th for most career shots (3,296).

In 1982, Wilson captured the James Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman and was named First Team NHL All-Star after posting 85 points (39 goals, 46 assists) in 76 games, leading all defensemen in goals. He finished in the Top-5 in Norris Trophy voting three other times. Wilson was selected to the NHL All-Star Game eight times and named as a Second Team NHL All-Star in 1985 and 1990.

Between 1979-1991, Wilson’s 719 points for a defenseman ranked only behind fellow Hockey Hall of Famers Paul Coffey and Ray Bourque.

Wilson began his illustrious career in hockey after being selected sixth overall by the Blackhawks in the 1977 NHL Draft. The stalwart blueliner appeared in 938 NHL games with Chicago from 1977-1991, amassing 779 points (225 goals, 554 assists) with a plus-121 rating.

On the Blackhawks franchise all-time lists, Wilson ranks ninth in games played, seventh in points, fourth in assists and 15th in goals. Among Blackhawks franchise defensemen, he ranks first in goals, points, assists, points-per-game (.83, minimum 300 games), and fourth in games played.

He played in 1,024 NHL regular season games with the Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks.

Wilson also appeared in 95 Stanley Cup Playoff games with Chicago, scoring 80 points (19 goals, 61 assists) with a plus-11 rating and a .84 points-per-game average. He ranks first in points-per-game, second in assists and points, tied for second in goals, and seventh in games played among franchise defensemen in the postseason.

Wilson announced his retirement as a player from hockey prior to the 1993-94 season.

Internationally, Wilson represented Team Canada in the 1984 Canada Cup, capturing a Gold Medal, and at the Rendezvous ’87 against the Soviet Union.

Wilson was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a member of the 2020 class on Nov. 15, 2021. He is also a member of three regional Sports Halls of Fame; Ottawa (inducted Oct. 1998), Chicago (inducted Sept. 1999), and San Jose (inducted Nov. 2016). The Ottawa 67s also honored his stellar career by retiring his No. 7 sweater.