Although born in Kincardine, Johnny Wilson actually grew up in Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec where his father took on a job as a miner when young Johnny was just a little mite. It was in the snowy, hockey-laden clime of the north that he and his younger brother, Larry, began their ascent to the NHL.
Both boys joined the Windsor Spitfires of the OHA in 1947 and established themselves as offensive standouts. The two robust siblings continued their parallel careers by hooking up with the Detroit Red Wings' organization by turning pro with their USHL affiliate in Omaha.
After a couple of false starts with the Wings, Johnny finally caught on as a full-time Red Wing in 1952. Larry, on the other hand, moved on the Chicago Blackhawks for the duration of his NHL career.
In the Motor City, Johnny Wilson soon established himself as an extremely durable foot soldier who, over the course of 580 consecutive games played between 1952 and 1961, earned the nickname "Ironman." His feat stood as a league record until Andy Hebenton of the Rangers extended his own streak beyond Wilson's run a few years later.
During Wilson's extended display of durability, he savoured three Stanley Cup victories with the Wings before joining the Blackhawks from 1955 to 1957. He then returned to the Wings for two more seasons of journeyman's duty before moving on for stints with the Leafs and Rangers.
It was during the Rangers' training camp in 1961 that Wilson broke his collarbone and his consecutive game streak at the same time. He managed to complete the 1961-62 season at which time he retired from on-ice duty.
In the ensuing years, he became an extremely well-traveled coach, taking on 14 different posts over a 14-year period. His assignments included stops with the Ottawa Montagnards senior club, Princeton University, Springfield Indians, L.A. Kings, Tidewater Sharks, Detroit Red Wings, Indianapolis Racers, Michigan Stags, Balitmore Blades, Cleveland Crusaders, Minnesota Fighting Saints, Colorado Rockies, Team Canada, and the Pittsburgh Penguins.