Monday, November 07, 2011

Absurd Goalie Monday: Derek Wilkinson

While you always hate to see a goalie have his career cut short due to lack of opportunities, the fact that this week's AGM was able to make it to the show and then make a solid name for himself after his playing days is always a good thing. This week, the profile of Derek Wilkinson.

While he first busted on the scene in the 1989-90 season in Junior B and C hockey with the Windsor Bulldogs and Belle River Canadiens respectively, he broke out a bit in the 1990-91 season in Junior B with the Chatham Micmacs Jr. team, playing in 24 games with a 3.61 GAA in that year.

Wilkinson moved up to the OHL for the 1991-92 season with the Detroit Compuware Ambassadors, where he would play 38 games and go 16-17-1 in the regular season, with a 3-2 record in seven playoff appearances. The Tampa Bay Lightning drafted Wilkinson in the 1992 Entry Draft in the 7th Round. The 1992-93 season had Wilkinson in Detroit with the newly named Jr. Red Wings, going 1-2-1 in four games before getting traded to the Belleville Bulls-- playing in 59 games and finishing with a record of 21-24-11, then 3-4 in seven playoff games. Returning to Belleville for the 1993-94 season, Wilkinson went 24-16-4 in 56 games and then 6-6 in 12 games of the playoffs.

Moving up to the professional ranks in the 1994-95 season, Wilkinson spent the year in the IHL with the Atlanta Knights, playing in 46 games and finished with a 22-17-2 record, then going 2-1 in four playoff games. Wilkinson had the bulk of the 1995-96 season spent in Atlanta again, playing in 28 games and compiling an 11-11-2 record, then getting called up to Tampa Bay; playing in four games and posting a 0-3-0 record.

The Bolts changed affiliates to the Cleveland Lumberjacks in the 1996-97 season, where Wilkinson would be for most of the year-- playing in 46 games with a 20-17-6 record, then going 8-6 in the playoffs. Wilkinson got the call to Tampa Bay again, this time going 0-2-1 in five games. The 1997-98 season had a bit of a split, as Wilkinson only played 25 games in Cleveland (9-12-2) and then appeared in eight games with Tampa Bay (2-4-1). Wilkinson had another split year in the 1998-99 season, playing in Cleveland for 34 games whilst finishing with a 10-15-2 record; then moving up to Tampa for five games with a 1-3-1 record.

The 1999-2000 season had Wilkinson as a free agent, which he would serve the bulk of the season with the ECHL's Charlotte Checkers, playing in 31 games and finishing with a 11-13-2 record. Wilkinson would also play a game with the IHL's Chicago Wolves, were he would get a tie out of it. Wilkinson got signed by the Belfast Giants of the British Elite League for the 2000-01 season, playing 23 games there before hanging up his pads for good at the age of 26.

While he had his career ended early, Wilkinson was able to land on his feet afterwords, getting hired by the Charlotte Checkers as an assistant coach in the 2002-03 season, then moving to head coach in the middle of the 2003-04 season. Wilkinson would be the head coach in Charlotte until they moved into the AHL, in which he took over the role of Senior VP of Business Operations of the Checkers. He remains the winningest coach in Checkers history at 237-182-42.

It was a long road and it seemed that Wilkinson wasn't able to find his niche in the NHL, Wilkinson made his mark in the minors and then parlayed that into a coaching role and making a very successful run for himself. It was short and sweet, but he'll last forever due to this post.

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