Doug Wilson stepping down as Sharks GM after 19 seasons

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San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson announced on Thursday that he is stepping down from the position after 19 seasons in charge.

In November, Wilson, 64, took a medical leave from the team with assistant GM Joe Will taking over on an interim basis.

From the Sharks:

“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,” said Wilson. “I have been incredibly fortunate to work for and with some of the most talented and passionate people in the game of hockey.

“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.”

That last line of Wilson’s statement is encouraging. Whatever that is causing him to step down may not keep him away from the game permanently.

A long, successful run in San Jose

After a 1,024-game NHL playing career that ended in 1993 and resulted in his election to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2020, Wilson joined the Sharks’ hockey operations department as director of pro development in 1997-98 and later became general manager in May 2003. Since then, the franchise has compiled the third-most regular-season wins in the NHL (760), only behind the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Sharks, who won the Presidents’ Trophy in 2009, made the Stanley Cup Playoffs 14 times during Wilson’s tenure, including a 10-season run from 2004-2014. They reached the Stanley Cup Final once (2016), won five Pacific Division titles, and made the Western Conference Finals five times.

Helping in that success were some of Wilson’s biggest acquisitions including Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley, Dan Boyle, Brent Burns, and Erik Karlsson.

According to the NHL, Wilson is only one of five individuals to play 1,000 games in the league and serve as general manager of team for 1,000 games, joining Bobby Clarke, Bob Gainey, Bob Pulford, and Bob Murray.

Sharks owner Hasso Plattner plans to hold an “extensive, external search” for Wilson’s replacement. Will will continue in the interim role until a new GM is hired.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.