EDMONTON – Former NHL player and coach Johnny Wilson passed away at age 82 this morning, December 27, after a lengthy battle with lung disease. He won four Stanley Cups as a player with the great Detroit Red Wings dynasty in the 1950s, winning in 1950, 1952, 1954, and 1955.
He also had one of the longest Iron Man streaks in NHL history, playing 580 straight games during one point in his eleven-year career. Incredibly, between 1952 and 1960, he never missed a single game. Wilson also played for Toronto, Chicago, and the Rangers.
Wilson is the uncle of current Maple Leafs head coach Ron. His brother, and Ron’s father, Larry, was also an NHLer.
After retiring in 1962, Wilson became a coach, first in Springfield in the AHL in 1967 and later in the NHL with Los Angeles, Detroit, Colorado, and Pittsburgh. He also coached in the WHA for two seasons.
Wilson had the difficult task of leading Team Canada back to the World Championship in 1977 after an eight-year absence. That return was ignominious for the team’s poor play and the disappointing fourth-place finish as it strove to refamiliarize itself with international hockey.