Doug Wilson Steps Down as Sharks GM After 19 Years with Team

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIApril 7, 2022

FILE - In this Sept. 19, 2018, file photo, San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson is shown during a news conference in San Jose, Calif. Wilson has been elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame's class of 2020. (AP Photo/Josie Lepe, File)
AP Photo/Josie Lepe, File

San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson, who has been on a medical leave of absence since Nov. 26, announced Thursday that he is stepping down from his post to focus on his health.

Wilson released a statement, which closed as follows.

"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."

Joe Will, who has been serving as the interim general manager, will continue in that role until a full-time GM is found.

The Athletic reported the following on Wilson's health when the medical leave of absence was announced.

"Wilson has been dealing with a persistent cough since the Sharks’ rookie camp in Scottsdale, Ariz., in mid-September. It is not believed to be COVID-related. He is expected to remain at his home in Arizona while he recovers."

Per Curtis Pashelka of the Mercury News, Wilson stayed in contact with both Will and Sharks Sports & Entertainment president Jonathan Becher during his leave.

An "extensive, external search" will now take place to find Wilson's replacement.

That person will have big shoes to fill. The 64-year-old Wilson guided the Sharks to 14 playoff appearances in his first 15 seasons. San Jose made the conference finals five times and reached the 2016 Stanley Cup Final, where it fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Sharks also won 51 or more regular-season games four times.

The Sharks have missed the playoffs each of the last two seasons and will almost certainly fail to make the postseason this year; there's work to be done for the next GM.

However, Wilson's legacy is one of remarkable success. San Jose had never made the conference finals in 12 seasons before Wilson's arrival, and the team was coming off a 73-point season when he arrived.

Wilson changed the narrative quickly, with the Sharks improving to 104 points and making the 2004 Western Conference Finals. Thanks to him, San Jose was a powerhouse for a decade-plus.