TORONTO - Monday will be a big day for coach Ron Wilsonís family in Hershey, Pa. His late father Larry will be inducted into the American Hockey League Hall of Fame before the leagueís all-star game.
Larry Wilson began his pro career in Windsor in 1947-48 and bounced between the AHL and NHL in the early 1950s, playing 152 games with the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks. Beginning with the Buffalo Bisons in 1955, the left winger played 12 AHL seasons and won the Calder Cup in 1963. Larry passed away in 1979 during Ronís brief playing tenure with the Leafs.
A few months ago, Ron Wilson was presented with a DVD of a Toronto-Chicago game from Nov. 6, 1954, in which Larry scored a goal against the Leafs. It was the first time he had seen his father on film.
Following his playing career, Larry Wilson began coaching and in his first season with the Providence Reds took them to the Calder Cup final, where they lost to a Springfield team coached by his brother, long-time Red Wing Johnny Wilson. During stints with Providence and Richmond, Wilson coached several future AHL and NHL bench bosses such as Bill Barber, Paul Holmgren, Terry Murray and fellow AHL Hall of Famer John Paddock.
He was named the first head coach of the AHLís Adirondack Red Wings in 1979, but suffered a fatal heart attack at age 48 just prior to training camp. Wilson will be inducted with the late Harry Pidhirny, a Toronto native and 1,000-game AHL veteran, Ottawa-born forward Mitch Lamoureaux, and former AHL president Maurice Podoloff.
The Leafs wonít get a better chance to make an immediate dent in the standings coming off of the all-star break than the next seven games in 12 days. They play seven clubs who are the closest to them in the standings, both ahead and behind, from the Montreal Canadiens who are 16 points up, to the New Jersey Devils who are eight back ... Defenceman Keith Aulie will represent the Toronto Marlies in the AHL all-star game ... When Toronto returns to action, general manager Brian Burke will be mulling the idea of asking goaltender Jonas Gustavsson to accept a 14-day conditioning stint with the Marlies. Such a demotion canít take place without the goalieís permission, though the Marlies only play once between now and Feb. 9 ... Phil Kesselís pre-break slump has denied him his 50th goal as a Leaf, stuck on 49 after in 119 games ... Monday marks the one-year anniversary of Burke tearing up the roster with two big trades, acquiring Dion Phaneuf, Fredrik Sjostrom, Aulie and Jean-Sebastien Giguere, and sending away Matt Stajan, Nicklas Hagman, Jamal Mayers, Ian White, Jason Blake and Vesa Toskala.