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
"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
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.