Leaf of the Day - Sept 18, 2009 - Johnny Wilson


I'm not going to spend a lot of time on Rick Vaive this morning, but if anyone has a good image for a virtual smack upside the head, we'll send it that way.

There's a 50th anniversary this year.  There's an 50th anniversary of something EVERY year, I guess, but this is one we'll actually talk about.  For the record, last year was the 50th anniversary of the Leafs' great run in the last week of the 1958-59 season.  Staring down elimination from the playoffs, the Leafs ran the table and came out of nowhere to grab the last playoff spot over the Rangers.  They then went all the way to the Final. 

I had Larry Regan saved for an important late-season game just in case it would be relevant.  Alas.  Larry Regan is still in the scan pile.

This time out, the event is date-driven rather than situation-driven, so we'll get to look at it.  This season marks 50 years since the Leafs-Wings trade for Red Kelly, who was one of the key parts of four Stanley Cup wins in the 1960s.

That trade probably doesn't happen without Ron Wilson's uncle John.

John Wilson was an excellent two-way player on the championship Wings eams  (and briefly on the not-so-good Chicago teams) of the 1950s.  In exchange for Barry Cullen, he became a Leaf for the 1959-60 season.  It was on his suggestion that Punch Imlach went to the Wings and pulled off one of the larger heists in Leaf history, trading journeyman Marc Reaume for Kelly.

We'll tackle that trade in more detail when the date approaches.

Wilson also held the NHL iron-man record as a player, playing 580 consecutive games between 1952 and 1961.  (Note - the card says 570 - the HHOF says 580 and he only played 3 for the leafs in 1960-61 before going to Rochester for a pair.  Something's off.)

He'd just play the one full season in Toronto before heading to the Rangers in November 1960 (when it mattered) for Eddie Shack, also a big part of those 1960s leaf teams.  Quite the legacy given the shortness of his stay....

Johnny Wilson's stats:

 1947-48  Windsor Spitfires  OHA-Jr.  34   23   28   51   15     12   4   6   10   11 
 1947-48  Detroit Hettche  IHL  25   21   13   34   19             
 1948-49  Windsor Spitfires  OHA-Jr.  25   30   20   50   24     4   1   0   1   2 
 1948-49  Detroit Hettche  IHL  4   5   4   9   0     13   16   7   23   16 
 1949-50  Omaha Knights  USHL  70   41   39   80   46     7   2   5   7   4 
 1949-50  Detroit Red Wings  NHL  1   0   0   0   0     8   0   1   1   0 
 1950-51  Indianapolis Capitols  AHL  70   34   21   55   48     3   1   0   1   4 
 1950-51  Detroit Red Wings  NHL              1   0   0   0   0 
 1951-52  Detroit Red Wings  NHL  28   4   5   9   18     8   4   1   5   5 
 1951-52  Indianapolis Capitols  AHL  42   25   14   39   16             
 1952-53  Detroit Red Wings  NHL  70   23   19   42   22     6   2   5   7   0 
 1953-54  Detroit Red Wings  NHL  70   17   17   34   22     12   3   0   3   0 
 1954-55  Detroit Red Wings  NHL  70   12   15   27   14     11   0   1   1   0 
 1955-56  Chicago Black Hawks  NHL  70   24   9   33   12             
 1956-57  Chicago Black Hawks  NHL  70   18   30   48   24             
 1957-58  Detroit Red Wings  NHL  70   12   27   39   14     4   2   1   3   0 
 1958-59  Detroit Red Wings  NHL  70   11   17   28   18             
 1959-60  Toronto Maple Leafs  NHL  70   15   16   31   8     10   1   2   3   2 
 1960-61  Toronto Maple Leafs  NHL  3   0   1   1   0             
 1960-61  Rochester Americans  AHL  2   2   2   4   0             
 1960-61  New York Rangers  NHL  56   14   12   26   24             
 1961-62  New York Rangers  NHL  40   11   3   14   14     6   2   2   4   4 
   Leaf Totals    73   15   17   32   8     10   1   2   3   2 
   NHL Totals    688   161   171   332   190     66   14   13   27   11 

Brother of Larry
USHL Second All-Star Team (1950)
Played in NHL All-Star Game (1954, 1956)

- Traded to Chicago by Detroit with Tony Leswick, Glen Skov and Benny Woit for Dave Creighton, Gord Hollingworth, John McCormack and Jerry Toppazzini, May 27, 1955.
- Traded to Detroit by Chicago with Forbes Kennedy, Bill Preston and Hank Bassen for Ted Lindsay and Glenn Hall, July 23, 1957.
- Traded to Toronto by Detroit with Frank Roggeveen for Barry Cullen, June 9, 1959.
- Traded to NY Rangers by Toronto with Pat Hannigan for Eddie Shack, November 7, 1960.

The HHOF take on Johnny:

"Although born in Kincardine, Johnny Wilson actually grew up in Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec where his father took on a job as a miner when young Johnny was just a little mite. It was in the snowy, hockey-laden clime of the north that he and his younger brother, Larry, began their ascent to the NHL.

Both boys joined the Windsor Spitfires of the OHA in 1947 and established themselves as offensive standouts. The two robust siblings continued their parallel careers by hooking up with the Detroit Red Wings' organization by turning pro with their USHL affiliate in Omaha.

After a couple of false starts with the Wings, Johnny finally caught on as a full-time Red Wing in 1952. Larry, on the other hand, moved on the Chicago Blackhawks for the duration of his NHL career.

In the Motor City, Johnny Wilson soon established himself as an extremely durable foot soldier who, over the course of 580 consecutive games played between 1952 and 1961, earned the nickname "Ironman." His feat stood as a league record until Andy Hebenton of the Rangers extended his own streak beyond Wilson's run a few years later.

During Wilson's extended display of durability, he savoured three Stanley Cup victories with the Wings before joining the Blackhawks from 1955 to 1957. He then returned to the Wings for two more seasons of journeyman's duty before moving on for stints with the Leafs and Rangers.

It was during the Rangers' training camp in 1961 that Wilson broke his collarbone and his consecutive game streak at the same time. He managed to complete the 1961-62 season at which time he retired from on-ice duty.

In the ensuing years, he became an extremely well-traveled coach, taking on 14 different posts over a 14-year period. His assignments included stops with the Ottawa Montagnards senior club, Princeton University, Springfield Indians, L.A. Kings, Tidewater Sharks, Detroit Red Wings, Indianapolis Racers, Michigan Stags, Balitmore Blades, Cleveland Crusaders, Minnesota Fighting Saints, Colorado Rockies, Team Canada, and the Pittsburgh Penguins. "



via img29.imageshack.us



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