Johnny Wilson (ice hockey)

Last updated
Johnny Wilson
Johnny Wilson 49-50.jpg
Wilson with the Detroit Red Wings
Born(1929-06-14)June 14, 1929
Kincardine, Ontario, Canada
Died December 27, 2011(2011-12-27) (aged 82)
Livonia, Michigan, U.S.
Height 5 ft 10 in (178 cm)
Weight 165 lb (75 kg; 11 st 11 lb)
Position Left Wing
Shot Left
Played for Detroit Red Wings
Chicago Black Hawks
Toronto Maple Leafs
New York Rangers
Playing career 19491962
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1965–1967 Princeton
1967–1969 Springfield Kings
1969–1970 Los Angeles Kings
1970–1971 Springfield Kings
1971 Tidewater Wings
1971–1973 Detroit Red Wings
1974–1975 Michigan Stags/Baltimore Blades
1975–1976 Cleveland Crusaders
1976–1977 Colorado Rockies
1977–1980 Pittsburgh Penguins
1980–1981 Springfield Indians
Head coaching record
Overall14–27–1 (.345) [College]

John Edward Wilson (June 14, 1929 – December 27, 2011) was a Canadian professional ice hockey player and head coach.


Playing career

After three seasons with the Windsor Spitfires, Wilson signed his first professional contract with the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League in September 1949, but spent most of the 1949–50 season with their farm team, the Omaha Knights. He was called up by the Red Wings late in the season and helped them win the Stanley Cup. After spending most of the 1950–51 season in the minors, Wilson joined the Red Wings on a full-time basis midway through the 1951–52 season and went on to help them win three more Stanley Cups (1952, 1954, 1955).

Soon after winning the Stanley Cup in 1955, Red Wings general manager Jack Adams traded Wilson to the Chicago Black Hawks as part of an eight-player swap. After two solid seasons in Chicago, he was reacquired by the Red Wings in the infamous Ted Lindsay trade and played two more seasons with the Red Wings before being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1959. A year later, the Leafs sent Wilson to the New York Rangers, along with another player, for Eddie Shack. After two seasons with the Rangers, Wilson retired following the 1961–62 season.

During his NHL career, Wilson scored 161 goals and 171 assists in 688 regular-season games and 27 points in 66 playoff games. He won four Stanley Cups with the Red Wings and appeared in two all-star games (1954, 1956). One of his most notable accomplishments was playing in 580 consecutive games between 1951 and 1960, making him the NHL's second "iron man". [1] [2]

Coaching career

In 1967, Wilson was hired as the head coach of the Springfield Kings of the American Hockey League, the minor league affiliate of the new Los Angeles Kings expansion team. Midway into his third season with Springfield, Wilson was promoted to interim head coach of the Los Angeles Kings after Hal Laycoe was fired following a dismal start to the season. However, Wilson was unable to turn the team around and returned to Springfield after the season was finished. He ended up leading Springfield to a Calder Cup title the very next season.

After winning the Calder Cup in 1971, Wilson was hired by the Detroit Red Wings during the 1971–72 season as a midseason replacement. Despite having a winning record behind the Wings' bench, the team missed the playoffs two straight seasons and Wilson was let go. It would be 15 years before another Red Wings' coach would better Wilson's record.

From there, he spent two years in the World Hockey Association, one with the Michigan Stags/Baltimore Blades (1974–75) and one with the Cleveland Crusaders (1975–76). He returned to the NHL, coaching one season with the Colorado Rockies (1976–77), and three with the Pittsburgh Penguins (1977–80), where he led the Penguins to two playoff appearances. Wilson returned to coach Springfield one more season and then retired from coaching in 1981. [3]

Wilson was named coach of the Canadian team that competed at the 1977 IIHF World championship tournament in Vienna. Canada, making an appearance at the event for the first time since 1969, finished fourth. The team was composed entirely of players whose teams had not qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs.


Johnny was the brother of Larry Wilson and uncle of Ron Wilson, both of whom played and coached in the NHL.

Wilson made his home in the Detroit area, together with his wife Pat, and was frequently seen at Red Wings home games. The couple has two children, a son, Kelly and a daughter, Tracy. Tracy A. Wilson, a former TV writer and show host, is currently writing a book - a true story that sent her on a journey into her father's life and led her to discover parts of her own as well. She also writes a blog called Tracy Wilson Writing Life.

On December 27, 2011, Johnny died of pulmonary fibrosis at the age of 82. He had battled lung disease and colon cancer for several years. [1] [2]

Head coaching record


Statistics overview
Princeton Tigers (ECAC Hockey)(1965–1967)
1965–66 Princeton 7–12–16–12–112th
1966–67 Princeton7–15–06–14–013th



TeamYearRegular seasonPost season
Los Angeles Kings 1969–70 529349(27)6th in WestMissed playoffs
Detroit Red Wings 1971–72 76302710(70)5th in EastMissed playoffs
Detroit Red Wings 1972–73 78372912865th in EastMissed playoffs
Colorado Rockies 1976–77 80204614545th in SmytheMissed playoffs
Pittsburgh Penguins 1977–78 80253718684th in NorrisMissed playoffs
Pittsburgh Penguins 1978–79 80363113852nd in NorrisLost in Quarter-Finals
Pittsburgh Penguins 1979–80 80303713733rd in NorrisLost in Preliminary Round


TeamYearRegular seasonPost season
Michigan Stags/Baltimore Blades 1974–75 7821534465th in WestMissed playoffs
Cleveland Crusaders 1975–76 8035405752nd in EastLost in Preliminary Round

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  1. 1 2 "Former NHLer Johnny Wilson dies". Slam! Sports ( Retrieved 2011-12-27.
  2. 1 2 "Johnny Wilson, N.H.L. Star, Dies at 82; Held Consecutive-Game Record". The New York Times. 2012-01-02. Retrieved 2011-01-04.
  3. "The story of Johnny Wilson". Toronto Sun. 2011-09-30. Retrieved 2011-12-27.
  4. "Men's Hockey Year-by-Year". Princeton Tigers. Retrieved 2017-07-10.
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Doug Barkley
Head coach of the Detroit Red Wings
Succeeded by
Ted Garvin
Preceded by
Hal Laycoe
Head coach of the Los Angeles Kings
Succeeded by
Larry Regan
Preceded by
Eddie Bush
Head coach of the Colorado Rockies
Succeeded by
Patrick J. Kelly
Preceded by
Ken Schinkel
Head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins
Succeeded by
Eddie Johnston