Tuesday, May 20, 1997

Mighty Ducks fire Ron Wilson as coach

 ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim fired coach Ron Wilson on Tuesday due to "philosophical differences" with the team's management.
 Mighty Ducks general manager Jack Ferreira announced during a news conference at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim that Wilson's contract would not be renewed. Wilson had coached the team since its formation as an NHL expansion franchise in 1993.
 Wilson, who turns 42 next week, was let go despite leading the Ducks to their first winning season since coming into the league as an expansion franchise in 1993. They also made the playoffs for the first time and beat Phoenix in the opening round before being swept by Detroit.
 The Coyotes subsequently fired coach Don Hay.
 Ferreira said he had the final say on the decision, which he added was made neither because of money nor wins and losses.
 "It was made because of philosophical differences," he said.
 Ferreira added there were issues involved that "I will not discuss in the future."
 Questioned repeatedly why the philosophical differences caused Wilson to be dismissed after the team had so much success this season, Ferreira said he considered letting Wilson go more than a year ago.
 Asked if the Ducks organization might be viewed critically by not rehiring a successful coach, Ferreira said, "No one knew who Ron Wilson was four years ago, so I'll be judged by the future."
 Ferreira said he had no timetable for hiring a new coach.
 Interestingly, Ferreira and Wilson sat together in the press box at Monday night's Seattle Mariners-Anaheim Angels baseball game at nearby Anaheim Stadium. The Walt Disney Company owns the Mighty Ducks and Angels.
 When asked if Disney CEO Michael Eisner was involved in the decision, Ferreira said simply, "Yes."
 Ferreira also announced that assistant coach Tim Army was also being released.
 Radio station XTRA reported the main reason for the firing was a personality clash between Wilson and team president Tony Tavares, who didn't attend the news conference.
 There also been a delay of about a year in getting Wilson's contract negotiated, the radio station said.
 "We attempted to set up a meeting to talk about a contract extension for weeks," Wilson told XTRA before the news conference. "They never seemed interested in talking. I was surprised this morning.
 "I wanted to stay with the Ducks. (But) I'm not upset by this. I will have another NHL job."
 Wilson said "it's emphatically wrong" to report that anyone else has talked with him about another NHL job. He has reportedly been a candidate for coaching vacancies in both Vancouver and Phoenix.
 Ferreira said at the news conference that he did make a proposal to Wilson about a month before the season ended, but never received a response.