Doug Wilson, former general manager of the San Jose Sharks, is still dealing with health issues

SAN JOSE — Doug Wilson said his physical health has improved but he still faces a long recovery from an unspecified illness that forced him to step down as Sharks general manager earlier this year.

“I’m not where I need to be. I’ve got some work to do,” Wilson said Saturday morning at a news conference, hours before a special awards ceremony the Sharks are hosting for him at the SAP Center.

“I have a lot of empathy for people who are dealing with things that you have to be proactive about and deal with. I let some things slide and ended up in a not great place to be honest.

“I’ve got some work to do and we’ve got great doctors and we’re just going to leave it at that.”

Speaking on stage in a downtown hotel conference room, Wilson, 65, was still sometimes bothered by the persistent cough he had last fall before his decision to take what was then considered a temporary medical leave of absence.

Wilson, still looking tanned and fit on Saturday morning, dressed casually in a familiar plaid shirt and jeans, officially stepped down as Sharks GM in April to focus entirely on his health, ending a 19-year reign as the best hockey team executive.

“I am in good hands. I think I’m in a better place than I was 10, 11 months ago,” Wilson said. “I need to be a better patient. That’s what they told me. But it was worrying. I feel like there is a lot of light at the end of the tunnel.”

Asked how long he wrestled with the idea of ​​leaving the Sharks before doing so, Wilson said: “It was the right thing to do. I don’t want to make graphs or anything like that. I must be a bad patient. I knew where I was and how far I was going and I probably should have approached him sooner.

“But I’m not looking back and I’m very, very proud of the fact that (new Sharks general manager) Mike Greer, one of our former players, is going to do a great job and I’m a supporter of him. It was the right time.”

At the time of his resignation, Wilson said he would like to return to work in the front office of an NHL team. But now he is putting all his energy into his health and recovery.

“My priority is to get back to full health,” Wilson said. “I’ve got seven grandchildren that I want to be able to chase around – they’re probably harder to chase than 23 players.

“I’ve always been aware of how important health is, and that’s intensified a bit in the last year or so. It’s really important and I need to get it back before I consider other choices or activities.”

Before the Sharks play the Chicago Blackhawks at the SAP Center on Saturday, the team will raise a banner along the arena rafters detailing Wilson’s accomplishments with the organization.

Wilson had a 16-year NHL career, including 14 seasons with the Blackhawks from 1977 to 1991. In his NHL career, Wilson had 827 points in 1,024 games and won the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman following the 1981-82 season when he had 39 goals and 85 points.

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