Ron Wilson named U.S. world junior team coach, hopefully on best behavior

WINNIPEG, CANADA - FEBRUARY 7: Toronto Maple Leafs' head coach Ron Wilson calls instructions to his team during a game against the Winnipeg Jets in NHL action at the MTS Centre on February 7, 2012 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Marianne Helm/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Ron Wilson hasn’t had much work since the Toronto Maple Leafs fired him in 2012 in favor of Randy Carlyle, who was fired this season. He was probably best known for his candor in the ensuing years, from calling the Leafs core ‘uncoachable’ to calling Air Canada Centre ‘a morgue’ to revealing that the Washington Capitals asked him to tank a season.

Ronnie was never exactly tightlipped in front of a live mic, of course, which is why USA Hockey was undaunted in bringing him back into the fold, hiring him to coach the 2016 U.S. World Junior team (U20) for the tournament scheduled for Helsinki this winter.

It’s his first coaching gig with USA Hockey since he led the Americans to the silver medal in the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, losing to Canada in overtime but technically winning gold on aggregate points, from what I recall.

Wilson has coached 1,401 NHL games and spent 18 seasons as a head coach in the NHL with stops in Toronto (2008-2012), San Jose (2002-08), Washington (1997-2002) and Anaheim (1993-97). He reached the Stanley Cup Final with the 1998 Washington Capitals.

From USA Hockey:

"We're extremely pleased to have Ron guiding our National Junior Team," said Jim Johannson, assistant executive director for hockey operations at USA Hockey, who will also serve as general manager of the 2016 U.S. National Junior Team. "His resume speaks for itself, both as a player and a coach, and we know he'll do an outstanding job."

"It is always an honor to serve as head coach for the United States," said Wilson. "The World Junior Championship has evolved into one of the great events on the hockey calendar and with so many highly-skilled players in USA Hockey's player pool, expectations have never been higher."

There are some expectations for the U.S. in the tournament, after a disappointing fifth place finish in 2015 and 2014. That’s after winning gold in 2010 and 2013.

Wilson is the first coach to go from the NHL to the U.S. world junior job, as the task usually falls to college coaches and ones in the USA hockey program.

If he wants another NHL gig … well, it’s time to get back in the game. There have been enough open jobs where its obvious he’s not getting hired on his laurels alone. Other coaches have used international tournament coaching gigs to get their name back out there – heck, one of them is on the Chicago Blackhawks’ bench right now in Kevin Dineen, head coach of the Canadians women’s gold medal team in Sochi.

Best of luck to Wilson. And by that we mean, please sir, more soundbytes …

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