Brock Wilson returned to hockey for three games after retiring last season – (Photo: Mick Lite)
Last weekend, the St. Charles Chill were faced with playing three games in four nights, which in minor hockey, isn’t anything new. However, with facing injuries, and facing the lost of defensemen Tony DeHart, the Chill needed a little help.
That is when Chill head coach and general manager, Jamie Rivers, looked off the board for a little help. The result? A three game come back from retired defensemen, Brock Wilson.
Wilson, a 29 year old veteran of the Central Hockey League, the American Hockey League, and the Elite Ice Hockey League, retired at the end of last season to join Keith Tkachuk on the coaching staff of the AAA St. Louis Blues. Tkachuk moved with the team to the 99 AAA St. Louis Blues team and Wilson became strength and conditioning coach. Meanwhile he is the assistant coach on the U16 AAA Blues team.
The decision to retire as a player, and start coaching, was surprisingly a pretty easy one for Brock. “We just won the championship in England, so I came home to work with the kids in the gym.” The gym Wilson speaks of is Power Play Personal Training and Performance Sports Training, located in Des Peres, Missouri.
“I was working with the kids, and here we were, middle of July, and I hadn’t even gotten back on the ice yet. It was at that moment, that I realized I really didn’t miss playing that much. I was talking working with Keith Tkachuk and the helping the U16 team here, and he told me if I was ready to hang them up, then they could always use me to help coach these kids. That is when I decided it was time to hang them up and I would start coaching.”
Then Wilson was called upon by Rivers to come help the Chill for a weekend trip as they were shorthanded. He was a force on the Chill blueline in his three games and was asked by Rivers if he wanted to stay with the team for the full season. It wasn’t in the cards for Wilson, as he is dedicated to his players, and I’m sure Rivers could completely understand that, as a coach.
Wilson did enjoy his return to hockey, and he touched on the game being a little easier as a player, after having seen the game as a coach. “I could see the game a lot better out there and playing was a lot easier. Seeing the game through a coaches eyes helps you see things you wouldn’t normally see and it makes you a little more patient because you know that you have a little more time to make plays. Compared to when I played earlier in my career when I was always nervous earlier in my career but this trip was just about having fun.”
Playing those games also helped Wilson reaffirm his decision to retire when he did. “It was a lot of fun, but it also helped me realize that I’m happy where I’m at. It’s kind of like a closure thing. I do miss playing, but it allowed me to understand that I’m in a good spot with coaching and working in the gym. It helped me as it let me know that I made the right decision in retiring.”
The number one thing Wilson enjoyed about returning to the game, especially with the Chill, was playing with the Chill’s captain, Jordan Fox. The two played together over in England with the Nottingham Panthers and when Wilson had the chance to lace them up with Fox, he enjoyed it.
“It was awesome. I consider him my brother. My dad took him in and he’s been my brother since I was a kid. To come back and play with him, especially in our hometown, was just awesome. We had a ton of family and friends come out to watch and that was the most special thing for me. I’m grateful that Rivers gave me the opportunity to do that and to be able to do it with Jordan made it even more special.”
It was funny that Wilson views Fox as a brother, because he was very protective of him in the match over the Brampton Beast. Beast defensemen Erik Spady and Chill’s Fox were at each other’s throat pretty much all night and anytime Wilson was on the ice, he was breathing down Spady’s neck. “I’ve always felt protective of Jordan. Anytime someone goes after him on the ice, I’m always there. That’s the hardest part of coming to the games to watch him play. He’s my brother, and if someone does something to him, I can’t do anything about it.”
Now that his stint with the Chill has ended, Wilson puts his focus back on the boys he coaches here in St. Louis. He’s on the staff of two different teams, as well as working with at the gym. With all that said, Wilson hasn’t ruled out another stint with the Chill if the opportunity arises.
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