PHOENIX -- Ron Wilson found himself hanging out in exclusive company on Tuesday night in San Jose.
His 600th NHL coaching win put him in league with six others in the 94-year history of the league, most of them in the Hall of Fame or likely headed there.
“There are people who think I coached against Dick Irvin,” joked Wilson. “It’s hard to put in perspective, You’ve been around a long time and have good teams, good players, good general managers and I’ve been lucky there. I don’t win the games, but I get credit for it.”
Wilson took a congratulatory phone call after the 4-2 win over San Jose — “not the President” he assured — but Art Berglund, USA Hockey’s Hall of Famer, who recruited the Fort Erie-born Wilson for the U.S. national team at age 19 and thus furthered his NHL and international coaching resume. Then the Leafs brass took Wilson out to an Irish pub in San Jose to celebrate
“It’s a very historic achievement,” GM Brian Burke said. “Only seven people have done it in a league that has been around for decades.”
Wilson recalled that the No. 1 man on the list, Scotty Bowman, came into Anaheim in Wilson’s first year and first game with the expansion Mighty Ducks.
“We’d done well in pre-season and Detroit came to town and just toasted us,” Wilson said. “You lose your first game and you think you’ll never win again.
“Pat Quinn advised me that coaching an expansion team could be death, because it’s the only job some coaches get. So I was lucky off the hop.”