The NCAA Division 1 hockey tournament gets under way this weekend, and one of the players to watch will be Boston Universityís Colin Wilson. The seventh-overall pick in the 2008 entry draft, by the Nashville Predators, Wilson is a leading candidate for this yearís Hobey Baker Award after leading Hockey East in scoring with 50 points [15 goals and 35 assists]. A 6í 2Ē, 215 lb. sophomore, the19-year-old Wilson is the son of long-time NHL stalwart Carey Wilson.
David Laurila: How would you describe Colin Wilsonís personality off the ice?
Colin Wilson: Iíd say that off the ice I like to goof around, although Iím pretty committed to school. I like to stay very well-rounded, but at the same time I like to hang around with the guys, just playing video games and having a couple of laughs. Things like that.
DL: How about on the ice?
CW: On the ice, Iím very competitive. Even in practice, I want to win the battle and get a little bit better. Iím real committed and driven to get better. At the same time, I like having fun with the guys out there, whether itís in the game or at practice.
DL: How would you describe your game?
CW: Iíd say that Iím a two-way power forward. I think I take care of my own zone; I play well defensively. On offense, I think I can make plays and put the puck in the net. I kind of use my size to get around defenders.
DL: After being drafted by the Predators, you were quoted as saying that you had seen guys drop in previous drafts and your hope was to not have that happen to you. Why was that important?
CW: I was ranked highly, and not dropping just kind of shows that you were a player that was wanted; it shows that all of your efforts are starting to show. Being a higher pick and not dropping just shows that the ranking was right and all of the work had paid off.
DL: You reportedly had a pretty good idea that Nashville would draft you, but are you aware of other teams that had a particularly strong interest?
CW: Yeah, leading up to it, Toronto ended up trading to five and I was told that if they were to trade to five there was a possibility that theyíd be taking me. Anywhere from five to ten is where I figured I would end up going and all of those teams were pretty high on me. Going to Nashville wasnít too much of a surprise.
DL: How different do you think Toronto would have been than Nashville?
CW: There would have been a lot more media; there would have been a lot more interviews and a lot more pressure. But when the day is over, itís the same. Itís still hockey and you still have to make the team, so it didnít make too much of a difference where I went.
DL: How much communication have you had with the Predators this season?
CW: At the beginning of the year we didnít talk too much, just every now and again. As the season went on, I started talking to them a little more, and as the season started winding down they wanted to see where Iím at and [talked about] things to improve on. We have a pretty good relationship and they arenít bugging me too much. They basically just want me to focus on our season at hand and to worry about Nashville at another time.
DL: What will go into your decision of when to sign?
CW: I think itís just going to come down to communication between us and them, and depending on how much they want me -- if they really want to pull me out of school -- if they think thatĎs the best thing for me. If I agree with that, and my parents and advisor agree with that, then thatĎs pretty much what itĎs going to come down to.
DL: Is it essentially a case of you being deemed NHL-ready, or would you consider playing in the AHL and working your way up?
CW: That was more of an option last year. I donít know if itís going to be an option next year -- playing in the minors. But obviously anytime you make that jump thereís the possibility that youíre going to be playing in the minors to begin with. Itís something I do have to consider before making that jump.
DL: What are your thoughts on Blake Wheelerís decision not to sign with Phoenix?
CW: You know, at the time I was pretty confused and wondered what the heck was going on. But it obviously worked out for him because he ended up going to a great team and heís having an outstanding rookie year [with the Bruins]. What he did obviously helped him out in his development; it has helped out his career.
DL: When you look at the Nashville Predators, what do you see?
CW: I think they have a really good organization. They have a decent amount of younger players in their program, and a couple of veterans, and I really like their GM. There is a lot of potential there.
DL: You chose Boston University over three WCHA schools. What went into that decision?
CW: I never really compared the two, the WCHA and Hockey East, because theyíre very equal leagues. They both have a lot of top-ranked teams. When it came right down to it, BU just had what I wanted. I didnít care where I went; I didnít want to be close to home; I didnít want to be far from home. BU was just the place to play. They have a real good tradition of winning and a solid reputation of developing players for the NHL.
DL: How would you describe your coach, Jack Parker?
CW: Heís very much a veteran coach. Heís been here a long time and knows his stuff. He can get players to do things they donít normally do to make them better hockey players and get them to be more well-rounded.
DL: One of your teammates here at Boston University, Nick Bonino, had his rights dealt at the trading deadline. Did that impact you in any way?
CW: I was more just excited for Nick and thought that it was a really cool experience for him. Heís a real great player and going from San Jose to Anaheim, heís going to be given a shot quicker to play in the NHL, which is generally what any young player wants. You want to be needed on their team, and I think it was kind of just a really exciting experience and I was happy for him. I also saw another friend, Eric Tangradi, get traded in the Ryan Whitney deal, so you realize that this is a business and youíre going to go wherever the business makes sense. Thatís just the way it works. At the end of the day you can get traded anywhere.
DL: You grew up in Winnipeg. What was it like seeing the Jets leave for Phoenix?
CW: Iíll never forget being at the last game, when they got knocked out, in that last season. Growing up in a real big hockey town helped me to develop and love the game even more, because everybody takes it real seriously. In fact, maybe some people take it a little too seriously at times. So I missed it when they left. We talked about how maybe the Penguins would be bought by Winnipeg; everybody was wondering what was going to be happening there, I miss it along with every other Winnipeger.
DL: Most people know that your father, Carey, played in the NHL, but not many are aware that your grandfather, Jerry, did too. How meaningful is that to you?
CW: Itís very meaningful. When people say, ďYour dad played in the NHL,Ē I always make sure to mention that my grandpa did. He was very good; he just ended up having too many injuries and never really made it. But it has kind of turned into tradition and thatís what everybody likes to build on -- tradition. Me trying to make pro hockey is part of building on the Wilson tradition. We have a real love for the game.
DL: What does it mean to your grandfather to have played in three NHL games?
CW: You know, itís very meaningful. Of course, he wanted to have more of a career with it, because he was supposed to turn into an all-star in the NHL. He was 6í3Ē, 220 lbs, and at that time it was like being the size of a Chris Pronger or a Zdeno Chara, or somebody like that. He had a really bright future before some injuries slowed him down. Still, getting to that level, if only for a few games, means a lot to him. He follows my career pretty closely.
DL: Your father played 13 NHL seasons. What are some of his favorite hockey stories?
CW: He likes talking about Theoron Fleuryís overtime goal with the Calgary Flames, the one where he ended up scoring and he slid from the blue line pretty much back to his net. I think that was in the conference championship. My dad talks about how he was on the ice and how Theoron Fleury skated by him for that celebration. He also talks about his friend Neil Sheehy. Those two got traded together and he talks about all of the fun times they had together on the road.
DL: Can you share any of his Neil Sheehy stories?
CW: Neil Sheehy was his roommate, and he always enjoyed women and everything like that. They had just got into LA and were at a nice Marriott. The whole team was there by the pool and Neil Sheehy brings this 10 blonde over, even though the coaches had said no girls, and he sits her down right by the coach. I think itís a pretty funny story, because I know Neil very well and heís a pretty good character.
DL: Iím sure youíve seen the t-shirts that say, ďHockey Is Life.Ē Is hockey life?
CW: Yeah, when it comes down to it, hockey is life for me. The goal Iím working towards is becoming a pro hockey player, where, downright, hockey is life. All you do is play hockey and youíre getting paid for it. Growing up, everything kind of revolved around hockey. The biggest reason I wanted to get good grades was so that I could get into college to play hockey. Everything revolves around hockey in my life.