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Former NHLer Johnny Wilson dies

Johnny Wilson, uncle of Leafs coach Ron Wilson, when he played for the Detroit Red Wings. (QMI...

Johnny Wilson, uncle of Leafs coach Ron Wilson, when he played for the Detroit Red Wings. (QMI Agency)

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:44 PM ET

Johnny Wilson, a four-time winner Stanley Cup winner with the Detroit Red Wings and uncle of Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson, has passed away at the age of 82.

Ron Wilson broke the news via twitter on Tuesday.

“My uncle, Johnny Wilson, passed away this morning at 82 yrs. He was a warrior thru & thru, right to the end. Our family will miss him dearly,” the Leaf bench boss tweeted on Tuesday.

Johnny Wilson, a native of Kincardine, Ont., scored 161 goals and added 171 assists in 688 games with Detroit, Toronto, Chicago and the New York Rangers. In the process, he helped the Wings dynasty win Cups in 1950, ‘52, ‘54 and ‘55.

Johnny Wilson also coached seven seasons in the NHL, serving stints behind the bench with Los Angeles, Detroit, Colorado and Pittsburgh.

During his playing career, he also put together the NHL’s ironman streak of 580 games, a mark that was eclipsed by the New York Rangers’ Andy Hebenton in 1964.

During an interview with the Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons just before the 2011-12 NHL regular season kicked off, Johnny Wilson acknowledged his health issues.

“When I’m sitting down, I feel like a million bucks,” Johnny Wilson told Simmons over the phone. “But when I get up, I’ve got this oxygen thing I’ve got to carry around with me. I’ve had a little trouble with my lungs after an operation. I’ve got to have this damn thing with me all the time. I’m hanging in there as best I can for an old guy. But sometimes you need to slow down.”

Johnny Wilson also admitted at the time that he gave his nephew Ron some helpful tips.

“He’s (Ron) got a tough job in Toronto,” Johnny Wilson told Simmons. “I told (Ron), he’s got to get those players fired up.

“He knows the game. He knows what has to be done. You can stand in the dressing room sometimes and give these kids all kinds of advice but the problem is, once they hit the ice, it’s all turned over to the players.

“I was a left winger. I don’t know how I’d react to all this coaching today. I’d go out there and react to the situations as they transpire. I’d do it instinctively. Today, you’ve got somebody telling you, you shouldn’t do this, you shouldn’t do that. I think I’d go out there and be too afraid of making a mistake.”

There was no initial word on the cause of Johnny Wilson’s death.


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