Carey Wilson admits it was never raw talent or a set of skills he noticed in his son; rather, an understanding and anticipation of the game.
An ability that led him to believe Colin Wilson
would one day be following in his footsteps.
"I noticed how he thought the game ... the anticipation," Carey Wilson told NHL.com. "Those are the kind of things that, later on, you can't teach. You have to have that understanding of the game and how things unfold in a split second. At a young age, I saw he was thinking that way. The rest -- well, there's so much more involved with growing up and maturing. If he set his sights on going pro, let time take its course and let's see what happens."
What happened was Colin Wilson
improved his overall game to the point he's now playing an integral role as a second-line wing for the Nashville Predators.
Two years after Colin's birth in Greenwich, Conn., the Wilson family packed their bags and spent the next 12 years in Winnipeg while dad played for the NHL's Calgary Flames and the International Hockey League's Manitoba Moose. Carey Wilson, now a doctor, actually played 12 seasons in the NHL for Calgary, Hartford and the New York Rangers.
"I would learn how to skate when I was 3 years old, but I don't remember too much of Calgary," Colin Wilson
told NHL.com. "When I turned 4, I was going to the rink all the time."
He'd learn the basics of skating in Canada, but it wasn't until he returned to the United States at the age of 15 that he began honing his hockey skills with the U.S. National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Mich.
"I still remember them bringing me on the national team as a fourth liner," he said. "I wasn't too much of a player. I couldn't play defense at all, and my skating was off. I was skinny. But I did a lot of weight training and they did a lot for my game."
Carey Wilson recalls the transformation of his son upon completion of the USNTDP in 2007.
"I thought it was fantastic," he said. "It was an enormous stepping stone to the next level. Not only how they brought the kids along as a team, but also a strong focus on how they were going to become better as a team. They broke down each individual player's needs and development and raised their game that way.
"Even from a maturity perspective. They went overseas over a dozen times, and you just grow so much as a person. I think that alone helps your game and maturity level. Seeing the rest of the world with friends your age is just going to help you mature and become more responsible as an individual."
Wilson was as consistent a scorer as they come as a member of the NTDP. He produced 9 goals and 16 points in 15 games with the Under-17 Team and 44 goals and 104 points in 108 games with the Under-18 Team, including a team-leading 45 assists in 58 games in 2006-07. He played in both the 2006 and '07 Under-18 World Championships, winning a gold medal in '06 while tying for the tournament scoring lead with 12 points (5 goals). He helped Team USA to a silver medal in '07.
"My coach (on NTDP) was Ron Rolston and he really helped develop me," Wilson said. "After developing me, he then put a lot of trust in me because he played me a lot. I think playing a lot really helped too. Me and (James) van Riemsdyk played on a line together and we kind of developed each other. We both saw the ice the same way, so we knew exactly where the other was going to be and it worked out really well." Wilson was named Team USA's Most Outstanding Player at the 2009 World Junior Championship after tying for eighth in the tournament with 9 points, including 3 goals, in six games. He tied for the goal-scoring lead in the 2008 World Junior Championship with 6 goals while ranking second on Team USA in points (7).
In addition to his experience on an international level for Team USA, Wilson was also grateful for the time he spent at Boston University under the tutelage of legendary coach Jack Parker. He led the Terriers with 55 points as a sophomore in 2008-09 and won a national championship.
"Winning the national championship is what I'll remember most," Wilson said. "That whole season, I think we lost four games in the first half and just two more after that. It was a really good season and we had seven guys from that team who are in the NHL."
Carey Wilson, a former Dartmouth College standout in 1979-80 and 1980-81, was glad his son opted to take the college route.
"I felt it was a very good fit for him," he said. "Probably more so after the fact, when looking back and realizing how much he got out of coach Jack Parker. He was a great coach ... a tough coach. At the same time, he's extremely caring. He was really helpful and kept Colin grounded. I don't think there's a wrong decision when it comes to choosing between major junior or college, but you have to find the right fit. I was a college guy, so I was swaying Colin in that direction, but the final decision was his."
Wilson was drafted by the Nashville Predators in the first round (No. 7) of the 2008 Entry Draft.
"I'd have to say, at this point, it was a pretty good decision," Carey Wilson said with a grin.
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
Author: Mike G. Morreale | NHL.com Staff Writer