Chad Wiseman as GM/coach might spark Riveters

Chad Wiseman, head coach of the New York Riveters for the 2015-2016 season, has been retained as head coach and will take on the role of general manager from NWHL Commissioner Dani Rylan.

The Riveters finished the season in last place with a 4-12-2 record and lost to the Boston Pride in the first round of the Isobel Cup Final.

Wiseman may not have been the most popular of coaches with fans and media, who only saw a coach who earned bench minors for yelling at the referees and iced a team with its offensively-minded players smothered under gritty, dump-and-chase play. His players, on the other hand, saw a coach who was passionate and cared deeply about their success, to the point where he took losses personally.

Wiseman’s poor use of skill players and his team’s negative puck possession drove the Riveters to an early semi-finals exit and placed them dead last in the regular season in every category except goals-against. Wiseman was not a good coach for this team, though he may have connected well with his players in practice and off the ice.

His inexperience coaching and in particular his inexperience in coaching skill players is what truly did the Riveters in.

But if you’re going to hold on to Wiseman, why not fully commit to his way of doing things? Why not give him the power of life and death over the team? Why not give him the chance to build an entire roster, structure a system and manage deployment of players he picked?

In the eyes of the NWHL, Wiseman was in his first year of coaching, coming off a long AHL career of being a depth player, with occasional call-ups to his teams’ NHL affiliates. It was expected that he would have a steep learning curve with the team, and the Riveters wanted the name recognition that Wiseman would bring, which would bring diehard AHL fans (who were likely to overlap with NWHL fans).

Wiseman has competed for a living his entire life; his team’s poor regular-season and postseason record can only drive him harder in New York’s second season.

After all, it can’t get much worse than this campaign, record-wise.

Those who disliked Wiseman as a coach may find a lot to like about him as a combo coach/GM, where he has the ability to build a team to his specifications and figure out from the outset where and how he will deploy players, crafting a team with his system already in mind.

Last season Wiseman was hired in August to coach a team that had been mostly built by July, with no input from him at all.

This year he has the chance to build things from the ground-up. Should assistant coach Mark DeSimone return to the bench as well, Wiseman will find himself backed once again by someone with a wealth of years coaching blue-collar teams and a good rapport with players.

Additionally, Wiseman’s appointment as combo head coach/GM will save the league money, as he is likely earning only an additional bump-up in salary, not pulling in two salaries. New York is the third of the four NWHL franchises to head in this direction, with only the Isobel Cup-winning Boston Pride retaining a separate position for both the franchise’s GM and head coach.

Now Rylan can focus on simply doing the work of a commissioner, rather than working two enormous jobs simultaneously. This will likely see the Riveters get more attention than the previous year, though it will certainly put them in a pickle if Wiseman earns any more bench minors and is ejected from the game, leaving them both coach- and GM-less.

From the release:

“Chad brings a wealth of hockey knowledge to his general manager role with the New York Riveters,” said Commissioner Rylan. “We’re excited to bring him back for a second year.”

“I am very excited and honored to take on the GM role for the New York Riveters,” said Chad Wiseman. “The continued and rapid growth of this league and women’s hockey makes for a very exciting time in this sport. I couldn’t be more thrilled to be part of it.”

Wiseman brings 14 years of professional hockey experience to his role with the New York Riveters. The Burlington, Ontario native has logged games in the NHL and AHL as well as professional leagues in Europe and Asia.

“The groundwork was set for the New York Riveters in the inaugural season,” said Wiseman. “Our team model was based off hard work, discipline, accountability and most importantly, character. The core group of character players that will be returning are the leaders we want to set examples for the new, young athletes coming into our organization.”

Free agency begins on May 1 and lasts until July 31. The 2016 Junior Draft is June 18.

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