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Interview: Chad Wiseman Coach and GM of the Riveters – Part One

Coach Wiseman1

On Mar. 31, the New York Riveters announced that head coach Chad Wiseman would be returning to his place behind the bench for a second season and that he’d be assuming the role of the team’s general manager, succeeding Dani Rylan.

Today’s SlapShot‘s own Kate Cimini wrote the following in her piece on the Wiseman’s return as New York’s coach and his role as the general manager:

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.

The 2015-16 season was a tough one for the Riveters and their head coach. The team scored the fewest goals in the league, allowed the most goals in the league, and finished with the worst record in the league. New York’s struggles last season made the announcement that Wiseman was not only returning, but would be given a much larger role, a surprise to many.

After the struggles of his first year behind the bench the head coach and now general manager of the Riveters is focused on only one thing; building a winning hockey team.

Today’s Slapshot recently was given the opportunity to speak with coach Wiseman about last season’s Riveters, how his role with the team has changed, what he hopes to address in the offseason, and what the future holds for his team. This is part one of a two part interview with Wiseman.

Today’s Slapshot: Had you and Dani [Rylan] spoken about you becoming the General Manager of the team during last season, or was this a more recent development?

Chad Wiseman: It was definitely something that was brought up near the end of the season, but nothing that transpired until the season was over.

TSS: What do you think will change about your day-to-day now that you’re both the head coach and the GM?

Wiseman: Obviously a lot more responsibility, a lot of game-day responsibilities. I’m going to be hiring a game-day manager to take on those responsibilities, so I can focus just on the coaching. Right now, [there are] weekly conversations with other GMs and learning the bylaws of the league and adding to the bylaws. Little bit of a learning curve right now.

Again, I think [I’m] just going to have a lot more workload, which isn’t really a big deal considering we’re only on the ice two practices and one game a week. There’s a lot of downtime, so I’m not going to be strapped for time at all.

TSS: Are there lessons you learned as a coach that you expect might be useful to you as the general manager?

Dani Rylan, Chad Wiseman and Mark DeSimone at the NWHL New York Riveters Media Day. Mandatory Photo Credit: Kaitlin S. Cimini

Dani Rylan, Chad Wiseman and Mark DeSimone at the NWHL New York Riveters Media Day. Mandatory Photo Credit: Kaitlin S. Cimini

Wiseman: That’s a good question actually. Probably not so much as a coach. I just ask a lot of questions. I was very much involved and I tried to learn as much as I can from Dani. I did get involved last year with other things outside of just coaching, knowing that I would have hoped to take on this role in the future with the Riveters, or with somebody else.

As a hockey player, I was always intrigued by hockey. I was intrigued by learning and getting better, so I use my time wisely to try to improve myself as a player, as a coach, or now, as a GM. So I did use a lot of my spare time to learn as much as I could from her, and kind of pick her brain and ask a lot of questions throughout the year.

TSS: What do you think were your greatest challenges from your first season as the team’s head coach?

Wiseman: It was kind of my first kick at the can as a coach, being kind of thrown into the fire, into a head coach [role]. I loved that challenge. It was a learning curve for sure, for myself, being put in that situation where you’re not just sitting back and learning from the head coach, and taking that three or four years. Just kind of thrown into the fire … and away you go.

I was more than confident in my ability to do it, but it was definitely not as easy as one might think. There’s a lot more involved in it than just running a good hockey practice. Obviously preparation for games, and educating yourself on other teams, and other players, and trying to figure out what works and what fits with your team, and the players that you have and trying to build your style, or even an identity with the players that you do have.

Coming into this season I thought there were specific things I wanted to do and then maybe [because of] the dynamic of our team, I had to change the way that I thought or change something I maybe wanted to implement but couldn’t. Or, just change the style to fit our style of play more, [instead of] a different dynamic of a team or of a different make-up of another team. It was just a learning experience overall, but I think ten years from now I’ll still be coaching, and I’ll still be learning.

I just took it all in. I learned from different experiences and different situations. Whatever it might be;  bench management, or preparation for practice or games. Everything I learned from will [make me] get better and improve myself as a person and as a coach going into the future here.

TSS: What positives from last season are you hoping to build on for next year, as you move forward here?

Ashley Johnston gets excited during warm ups. NWHL New York Riveters at Connecticut Whale Feb 28 2016. Mandatory Photo Credit: Kaitlin S. Cimini

Ashley Johnston gets excited during warm ups. NWHL New York Riveters at Connecticut Whale Feb 28 2016. Mandatory Photo Credit: Kaitlin S. Cimini

Wiseman: Now that we’ve had a season under our belt, and kind of gone through the process here of starting to re-sign players, I think it’s key to bring back those character players that are going to help groom, or build new, young athletes who are going to become professional athletes here in the future. Now that we have specific systems set in place, whether we tweak things or not, they have somebody to build off of. Where last year, we just jumped right into it.

We did a defensive zone coverage in the neutral zone that these girls have never seen or heard of before. So, it was a challenge.

We had limited video clips to show when we’re trying to teach things so I think that’s a huge positive going into this next season. We have our video ready to go with something as soon as we jump into camp. As soon as we get to camp we’re going to spend four or five days teaching, watching video, and I feel like we’re going to be just one step ahead or ten steps probably ahead of where we were last year at the beginning point.

We maybe wasted four or five weeks trying to implement everything we needed. We knew that at the time, unfortunately, it was going to be a process, and that we were going to have to waste some time starting into the season learning our systems.

For myself, with one year under my belt, one year of experience, [it’s] no different from when I played. Every year you get experience. The better you get, the more you learn. The biggest thing is we do have the right core people that I’d like to bring back, that I think we can build a successful winning championship team around.

TSS: Speaking to that, are there players that you consider to be part of the team’s core that you really want to try and build around?

Wiseman: Yes, absolutely, no question. I won’t get into names right now because I haven’t signed anybody but, there’s 100 percent five or six players that I would consider the leaders of this team that I’d love to build a team around. I believe they’re the right people to do so.

To be continued in Part 2.

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