Wilson Named Olympic Coach

     This press release Monday from USA Hockey on the Ron Wilson being named men’s Olympic coach for the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, British Columbia:

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – USA Hockey on Monday named Ron Wilson, who led the U.S. to the gold medal in the first World Cup of Hockey in 1996 and the second-winningest active coach in the National Hockey League, as head coach of the 2010 U.S. Olympic men’s team. 

Wilson, the current head coach of the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, will also serve as the head coach of the U.S. Men’s National Team at the 2009 International Ice Hockey Federation Men’s World Championship April 24-May 10 in Berne and Zurich-Kloten, Switzerland.

“It’s no secret that Ron Wilson is one of the best coaches in the game,” said Brian Burke, general manager of the 2010 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey team and also the president and general manager of the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs. “Our national team management group is excited to have Ron lead our team in Berne and Vancouver. He brings passion, energy, and an overall knowledge of the international landscape to the table that is second to none.”

Wilson, who has coached 1,170 NHL games and has 550 wins to his credit, is in his first season as the head coach of the Maple Leafs.

“We couldn’t be more pleased to have Ron Wilson as the head coach of our Olympic team and also our squad at the upcoming World Championship,” said Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey. “He’s an innovative leader who has proven time and again that he is one of the absolute best coaches in the game.”

Wilson has been the head coach of five different U.S. teams, an assistant coach once and also played on five U.S. teams over the course of his distinguished career.

“Needless to say, it is quite an honor to have the opportunity to coach our Olympic team in Vancouver and also our team in the upcoming World Championship,” said Wilson, who will become only the fourth person to lead two different U.S. Olympic men’s ice hockey teams. “I’ve enjoyed my involvement enormously with USA Hockey over the years, both as a player and coach, and look forward to the challenge ahead.”

Most recently, Wilson led the United States in the 2004 World Cup of Hockey where it finished with a 2-3-0 record and lost out in the semifinal round of the tournament. He also guided the United States to the championship of the inaugural World Cup of Hockey in 1996, one of the brightest moments in U.S. hockey history. Team USA finished with a 6-1-0 overall record and claimed the title by winning a best-of-three championship series against Canada, including a 5-2 victory in the decisive third game played in Montreal, Quebec.

Wilson also led the 1998 U.S. Olympic Men’s Team at the first-ever Winter Games to feature participation by NHL players. The U.S. skated to a sixth-place finish in Nagano, Japan, with a 1-3-0 record.

Raised in Riverside, R.I., Wilson has twice served as head coach of the U.S. Men’s National Team (1994 and 1996) and was an assistant coach for the United States in the 1990 Goodwill Games.

Under Wilson’s direction, the 1996 U.S. National Team posted a 5-3-0 overall record and captured the bronze medal at the 1996 IIHF World Championship in Vienna, Austria. The medal was the first for the United States in an A-Pool IIHF Men’s World Championship since 1962 (excluding Olympic years), when the U.S. also finished with the bronze. He led the 1994 U.S. Men’s National Team to a 4-4-0 overall record and a fourth-place finish at the 1994 IIHF World Championship in Bolzano, Canazei and Milan, Italy.

Beginning as a player, Wilson has been involved with USA Hockey since the mid-1970s, having been a member of the U.S. Men’s National Team in the 1975, 1981, 1983 and 1987 IIHF World Championships. He also captained the 1988 USA Select Team that captured the championship of the prestigious Spengler Cup in Davos, Switzerland.