Wilson gets multiyear deal

Updated: August 2, 2004, 9:26 PM ET
Associated Press

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Coach Ron Wilson was given a new multiyear contract Monday by the San Jose Sharks, a reward for leading the club to the best season in franchise history.

The Sharks also re-signed assistant coaches Tim Hunter and Rob Zettler. Wilson and his staff got two-year contracts with an option for a third season, but financial terms of the deals weren't immediately available.

San Jose went 43-21-12-6, earning 104 points and the Pacific Division title before advancing to the Western Conference finals for the first time, ousting St. Louis and Colorado along the way.

Though his first full season in San Jose was a wild success, Wilson knows he still has plenty of work to do on a young club that could be even younger next year after the offseason departures of a few veterans.

"We're still a young and developing team with lots of room to grow," said Wilson, who will coach the United States in the upcoming World Cup of Hockey. "But to see the light go on for so many guys, that's really what coaching is all about, when you see the kind of illumination from your team."

Wilson joined the Sharks in December 2002 to replace Darryl Sutter, fired early in the dismal season. San Jose missed the playoffs that spring, but made a league-best 31-point improvement last season before losing the conference finals to the Calgary Flames in six games.

But that turnaround was no surprise to general manager Doug Wilson, who decided to keep Ron Wilson around when he took over the team's hockey operations last summer. They share a long-term vision for the Sharks, who hope to maintain a young, speedy club that can excel within Ron Wilson's up-tempo, puck-possession system.

"We wanted to change the way this team was going to play," Doug Wilson said. "There are very few coaches who have that combination of fundamentals, detail and creativity. That was the first thing we identified that we wanted in a coach, and Ron fits that."

Ron Wilson previously spent four seasons in Anaheim and five seasons in Washington, leading the Capitals to the 1998 Stanley Cup finals. The former NHL defenseman has 374 career victories.

Wilson also was behind the American bench for the 1998 Olympics and two World Championships, and he led the U.S. team to victory at the 1996 World Cup.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press