October 11, 2017

Legends of Team Canada: Carey Wilson

When Carey made his NHL debut as a 21-year old for Calgary in 1984 he had a solid hockey career behind him. 

After graduating from Dartmouth College he went to Finland where he played two seasons in the Finnish Elite league where he had 72 points in 65 games. He also had represented Canada in the 1982 World Junior Championships (gold), but the highlight until his NHL debut was when he played for Canada in the 1984 Olympics. While there he scored a hat trick in the opening game against the defending champions USA in a 4-2 win.

Carey's father Gerry was the vice-president and team doctor for the WHA Winnipeg Jets. His father was once a dominant junior player who briefly played for the Montreal Canadiens before injury cut short his promising career. 

Needless to say, Carey was brought up with hockey in his veins. So were academics. Carey had graduated with a Biochemistry degree from Dartmouth and qualified as a pre-med student before he left to pursue hockey in 1981.

But it was far from a conventional hockey move. Carey, a 1980 draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks, joined his twin brother Geoff, a 1981 draft pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins, for a couple of seasons with HIFK Helsinki in the top Finnish League. The two had a tight bond in hockey but also in triathlons during the off-seasons.

The boys interest in Scandinavia can also be attributed to their father Gerry. He had the family spend considerable time there in their youth as he studied the physiology of hockey players in Sweden. That is where he learned of Anders Hedberg, Ulf Nilsson and Lars Erik Sjoberg and brought them to the WHA's Winnipeg Jets and helped changed the way hockey was played in North America.

Wilson returned to North America for the 1983-84 season. The Blackhawks had moved his playing rights to the Calgary Flames, but before he would embark on his long NHL journey Wilson committed to Dave King's Canadian national team program and the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo.

Wilson was one of Canada's strongest players. He scored a hat trick in the opening game against the United States. Unfortunately he never scored another goal in the tourney and finished with six points. Canada finished in fourth place.

Wilson was proud of his Olympics experience. He did it for his father.

 'I heard my father was a real tough kid and a good player in his day. But he never got a shot at the pros. His career was cut short because of calcium buildups in his knees, so maybe it might be realistic to say he lives through me. ''I'm going to give it a shot at turning pro. I'm ready to sign after this. My long-term goal is like his, though, to study medicine.''

Wilson immediately joined the Calgary Flames after the Olympics and began an impressive NHL career. Carey scored a total of 427 points including 169 goals and 258 assists in 552 regular season games, as well as 24 points including 11 goals in 52 playoff games.

Of course nowadays Carey Wilson might be better known as Colin Wilson's dad. Colin was a long time Nashville Predator who recently joined the Colorado Avalanche. 

The family tradition continues, only now it is American tradition. Colin was born in Connecticut when Carey was playing in New York with the Rangers. Colin has competed internationally with Team USA.

Carey Wilson, had divided loyalties naturally.

"I could not put anything USA on," Carey said. "But in fondness for my son, I won't wear anything Canadian, either. But I absolutely wanted them to meet at this tournament, but in the gold-medal game."

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