Leafs introduce Ron Wilson as next head coach
The Toronto Maple Leafs officially introduced Ron Wilson as the team's next head coach on Tuesday afternoon.
The 53-year-old Windsor, Ont., native says the opportunity is "a dream fulfilled."
"The furthest thing in my mind at any point in my hockey career is that I would have an opportunity ever to coach a team like the Toronto Maple Leafs, with their incredible history," he said at a press conference at the Air Canada Centre.
Wilson grew up in Fort Erie, Ont., and spent parts of three NHL seasons with the Leafs in the 1970s.
"I dreamed of playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs as long as I can remember," he said. "I lived and died with the Maple Leafs through the '60s.
"To be able to come back and be a part of the Maple Leafs again is basically a dream fulfilled that I never thought I'd experience."
Wilson will succeed Paul Maurice, who was fired last month after the club missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons.
Wilson travelled to Toronto on Monday to finalize the four-year deal. The Maple Leafs finished 12th in the Eastern Conference with a 36-35-11 record last season, missing a playoff spot by 11 points.
Wilson has coached three NHL teams. He was fired last month by San Jose after the Sharks lost in the second round of the playoffs.
He spent five years with the club, leading them to four straight postseason berths and the Western Conference Final in 2004. He holds several club coaching records.
Wilson has compiled a record of 518-446-127 over his 1,091 games with the Sharks, Washington Capitals and Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. His career win totals rank third among active coaches.
He was the head coach of the U.S. National Team at the 1998 Nagano Olympics and also led the Capitals to the Stanley Cup Final. In 1996, he coached the U.S. to victory at the World Cup of Hockey.
Interim General Manager Cliff Fletcher said Wilson's career has been "very distinguished."
"Fourteen years as an NHL head coach, experience in World Cup competition -- winning a championship, experience in the Olympics, and lots of experience in Stanley Cup playoff competition," Fletcher told reporters.
"But most of all we are excited about bringing Ron on board because of his track record in working with and developing good young hockey players, which as we all know is the key for the future of our club."
Wilson, who is a dual citizen, described his new role as an "interesting project."
"It's gonna require a lot of work, it's gonna require a lot of energy and attention to detail, but I'm the happiest person in the National Hockey League today," he said.
With files from The Canadian Press