Sharks fire head coach Ron Wilson

Ron Wilson was fired Monday by the San Jose Sharks, despite being the winningest head coach in franchise history.

Head coach Ron Wilson was fired Monday by the San Jose Sharks.

Wilson is the winningest head coach in franchise history, posting a 206-134-45 record in 385 NHL games with San Jose, but he failed to impress in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

"Sometimes the class needs a new professor and sometimes the professor needs a new class," Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said.

"In most ways, I was shocked when Doug told me," Ron Wilson said. "But in some ways, I guess, I was not surprised.

"When it happens when you don't expect it, you're disappointed. I can honestly say that I could not be prouder of my work here.

"I think our team's record speaks for itself. Obviously, we did not win a Stanley Cup while I was here [and] I'm disappointed in that as any coach would be."

Wilson led the Sharks to a 49-23-10 record this season, including a remarkable streak of 20 games without a loss in regulation.

For their efforts, the Sharks earned a second Pacific Division title and the second seed in the Western Conference.  

But in the playoffs, they were extended to seven games by the seventh-seeded Calgary Flames, then eliminated in six games by the fifth-seeded Dallas Stars in the conference semifinal.

"I cannot control guys falling down, I cannot control bounces in the playoffs," Wilson said. "I would play that [Dallas] series again and go in with the same game plan.

"You out-chance and outshoot a team, and sometimes it is not meant to be."

It marked the third straight second-round exit for the Sharks, who lead the NHL in victories the past four seasons, only to go 28-24 in 52 playoff games with Wilson behind the bench.

"The results [show] we didn't get over that hump," Doug Wilson said. "We kind of got to a certain point and we got bogged down.

"You cannot just sit back and assume things will be different. I'm not going to apologize for where we're at, but where we're at today is we're not playing and we think across the board that we should be farther along."

Expected to return

As the players cleaned out lockers on May 6, Wilson told reporters that he fully expected to return next season and take the team deep into the playoffs.

"You look at my record [and] it is second to none, literally, in the sport," Wilson said. "So I'm not even worried about that.

"I don't think there has to be too many things changed about our team. We're ready to roll next year, too.

"We have accomplished more since I have been here than any other team in the league, except win the Stanley Cup. That is the next thing we check off on our list."

Wilson was the first head coach of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, spending four seasons with the expansion franchise before being relieved of his duties.

He resurfaced as head coach of the Washington Capitals, guiding them to the Stanley Cup final in his first season, only to be swept by the Detroit Red Wings.

Wilson was dismissed by the Capitals following the 2001-02 campaign, and replaced Darryl Sutter as Sharks head coach on Dec. 5, 2002.

He eclipsed Sutter's franchise record of 192 wins on March 1, and ranks eighth among NHL head coaches with 518 victories in 1,091 games.

"Even though coaching can be a very callous and negative position, my staff and I poured my heart and soul into this," Wilson said. "It is very difficult to talk about this unemotionally."

"Ron helped foster a new era in San Jose … with some record-setting, regular-season performances," Doug Wilson said. "However, ultimately, we have decided that it is time for a different voice and a different approach to lead this team.

"We're proud of what we have accomplished as an organization. But we feel that this team is capable of achieving greater success."

With files from the Associated Press