The Chicago Wolves have named Don Lever the team’s new head coach. In addition, the club has named Ron Wilson assistant coach.
The 56-year-old Lever becomes the seventh coach in Wolves history and brings 20 years of professional coaching experience to Chicago’s bench, which includes winning the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup in 2007 as head coach of the Hamilton Bulldogs.
The South Porcupine, Ont., native has compiled a 235-184-21-8-17 record and .555 percent winning percentage in 465 games as a head coach in the AHL, which includes two seasons with the Rochester Americans (1990-1992) and four with Hamilton (2005-2009). He was awarded the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as the league’s coach of the year in 1991, his first season as a head coach.
Lever also served as an assistant coach with the National Hockey League’s Buffalo Sabres (1987-1989, 1992-2002), St. Louis Blues (2002-04) and Montreal Canadiens (2008-09), recording a .538 winning percentage in 1,129 games (525-440-146-16-2), which includes an appearance in the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals with Buffalo. He began the 2009-10 season as a pro scout for the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks.
A veteran of 1,020 NHL contests, the former first-round draft pick registered 313 goals, 367 assists and 680 points in 15 seasons of NHL action with the Vancouver Canucks (1972-1980), Atlanta Flames (1979-80), Calgary Flames (1980-1982), Colorado Rockies (1981-82), New Jersey Devils (1982-1985) and Buffalo Sabres (1985-1987).
Wilson comes to Chicago after serving as assistant coach in Hamilton from 2003-2009, which includes being on Lever’s staff there from 2005-09. He also served as head coach of the Bulldogs for the final 15 games of the 2008-09 regular-season (10-3-0-2) and Calder Cup playoff run, where they lost in the North Division Semifinal, after Lever was promoted to Montreal’s staff in March.
The Toronto native entered the coaching ranks as an assistant coach with the AHL’s Springfield Falcons in 1996 and has posted a 487-404-80-31-23 record and .540 winning percentage in 1,025 games as an assistant in the AHL with Springfield (1996-2000), Saint John (2000-03) and Hamilton. He won Calder Cups as an assistant with Saint John (2001) and Hamilton (2007).
Prior to his coaching career, the 53-year-old Wilson tallied 326 points (110 goals, 216 assists) and 415 penalty minutes in 832 NHL tilts with the Winnipeg Jets, St. Louis and Montreal, spanning 14 seasons (1979-88, 1989-94). He also appeared in 427 AHL matchups, amassing 438 points (159g, 279a) and 396 penalty minutes with the Nova Scotia Voyageurs (1976-79), Sherbrooke Jets (1982-84, 1985-86) and Moncton Hawks (1988-90). Wilson was a member of Nova Scotia’s Calder Cup championship team in 1977.
In accordance with team policy, terms of the deals were not disclosed.
Lever and Wilson will be behind the Wolves bench on Friday when the team hosts the Manitoba Moose at the Allstate Arena.