Buffalo Sabres forward Scott Wilson couldn’t imagine he’d be in the position he is now, after being selected 209th of 211 players taken in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
“It’s been a long journey for me,” Wilson says from his cottage on Lake of Bays. “I actually remember on draft day, I was working in Oakville and my dad asked me if I wanted to take the day off to sit at home and watch the draft. I didn’t really think anything of it. I thought the chances were really slim, so I just went to work that day.”
On his lunch break, Wilson says he checked his phone to find out he had been drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Seven years later, he’s a two-time Stanley Cup winner and now an important piece to the Buffalo Sabres, acquired early in the 2017-18 season to bring some of that playoff experience to a rebuilding squad.
Despite the success early in his career, it hasn’t always been a smooth road for Wilson. The Oakville native was called up to the Penguins in 2016, but a late-season broken ankle held him out of the playoffs and held his name off of the Cup when his team captured hockey’s holy grail for the first of back-to-back seasons.
“Not going to lie, it was pretty tough in that ’16 year when I broke my ankle,” he says. “It was exciting to be a part of the celebration and everything, but deep down it did bother me that my name wasn’t going to go on it. Sometimes you think that might have been my chance and it slipped away, but I just kind of geared up that summer and took advantage of training. Obviously, we were able to go on a nice run and it was a dream come true to see your name on the cup.”
For Wilson, these days summer training happens at his cottage on Lake of Bays, just outside Baysville. It’s an important place, where he’s able to recharge not just physically, but mentally as well.
“A lot of people don’t really know how stressful a season is,” Wilson says. “Even though it’s physically tough on your body, it’s also a mental grind sometimes. Playing 82 games, it’s a really long year. So just coming up here and getting away from the game, kind of rejuvenating yourself, having some time alone with your family, it’s a great place to take some time and take advantage of that.”
Muskoka will play a large roll in Wilson’s offseason, as he prepares for his first full year with the Sabres, a team with this year’s first overall pick, that hopes to be headed towards the same sort of success Wilson’s old squad, the Penguins, has seen lately. Along with his offseason training routine, the fifth-year NHLer says he’s excited to enjoy cottage country for many of the same reasons we all do.
“I’m actually building a gym up here, so I’ll be training up here, which is nice. I won’t have to go too far,” he says. “But pretty much to be honest, [I’m looking forward to] just laying low up here, enjoying the water. Hopefully we get some nice weather coming in, I think it’s starting to, but really just hanging low and enjoying the water.”
You can listen to Muskoka411’s full interview with Scott Wilson below: