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Doug Wilson steps down as Sharks general manager

After 19 seasons with the Sharks, Wilson retires.

Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2020 Inductee Doug Wilson during a ceremony before the Toronto Maple Leafs face the Calgary Flames at the Scotiabank Arena on November 12, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images

After missing much of this season due to an undisclosed illness, San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson will step down from his role, effective immediately.

In a statement released this morning, Wilson said this:

“These past 19 years serving as general manager of the San Jose Sharks have been a privilege and one of the most fulfilling and enjoyable periods of my life. I have been incredibly fortunate to work for and with some of the most talented and passionate people in the game of hockey.

“I want to thank Hasso Plattner, along with our previous ownership groups, for the incredible opportunity and the trust they placed in myself and our staff. I want to also thank all of the coaches, players, scouts, trainers and members of the hockey department that I have worked with over these many years for their dedication and commitment to our organization. I want to thank the tremendous fans of the San Jose Sharks franchise. Your enthusiasm and support of this team is unmatched, and I will cherish the shared memories that we have built together over nearly two decades.

“I would not have been able to serve in this role for so long without the unconditional love and support from my family, especially my wife Kathy. The sacrifices that they have made to allow me to pursue this opportunity have been selfless and I cannot thank them enough.

“Finally, I want to thank everyone who has reached out during my leave of absence. While I have made great progress over the last several months, I feel it is in the best interest of the organization and myself to step down from my current duties and focus on my health and full recovery. I look forward to continuing my career in the NHL in the future.”

Following the announcement, Sharks owner Hasso Plattner released a statement of his own.

“I want to personally thank Doug for his 19 seasons as general manager of the San Jose Sharks. Doug and his staff produced remarkable results over a span that very few NHL teams can match, highlighted by our 2016 Stanley Cup run,” said Plattner. “Doug has been an integral part of this franchise since the team’s inception in 1991, and his impact — on and off the ice — will continue to be felt long into the future. Doug, and his wife Kathy, will always have a place as members of the Sharks family.”

Wilson stepped down in November 2021 with health-related issues and handed day-to-day operations over to assistant general manager Joe Will. Will has run the team in Wilson’s stead, making trades and signings without pause. Whether Will remains in the role is yet to be seen. Plattner says the Sharks will “immediately” start “an extensive, external search for a new general manager of the club.” Until the team’s new general manager is identified, Will will serve as interim general manager.

The search committee for the new general manager will include Plattner, Will and Sharks President Jonathan Becher. Plattner did not give a timeline for the hiring.

In his 19 years with the Sharks, Wilson had many successes and failures. He was named general manager on May 13, 2003, taking over the role from Dean Lombardi.

During Wilson’s time as general manager, the Sharks won 760 regular-season games, won the Presidents’ Trophy once (2008-09), advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals once (2016), won one conference title, five Pacific Division titles and appeared in the playoffs 14 times, including a 10-year stretch from 2004-2014.

Wilson will be remembered for his blockbuster trades, some that worked and some that didn’t. Notably, he was responsible for the acquisitions of Joe Thornton (2005), Dan Boyle (2008), Dany Heatley (2009), Brent Burns (2011) and Erik Karlsson (2018).

In 2017, Wilson joined an elite club, becoming just the fourth person to play in 1,000 NHL hockey games and serve as general manager of an NHL team for at least 1,000 games. The only other players to accomplish the feat were Bobby Clarke, Bob Gainey and Bob Pulford. Bob Murray has since accomplished the feat, as well.

Wilson joined the Sharks as the director of pro development in 1997-98. He stayed in the role until he was named general manager in 2003.

He also played for the team. He was acquired by San Jose just before the inaugural season in 1991. Wilson played two seasons on the Sharks’ blueline and was the team’s first captain before announcing his retirement in 1993.

In 2020, Wilson was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in recognition of his playing career. He has also been inducted to the the San Jose (2016), Chicago (1999) and Ottawa (1998) Sports Halls of Fame.