Chad Wiseman was kind enough to spend some time talking to Today’s Slapshot about returning to the Riveters as the head coach and his new role as the team’s general manager.
Last season was Wiseman’s first as a coach and with him behind the bench the Riveters finished with a record of 4-12-2. The Riveters had a team that was defined by character, hard work, and heart, but they lacked speed, puck movers, and the kind of talent that helped the Boston Pride claim the Isobel Cup.
As the general manager for the 2016-17 season and this current offseason Wiseman is setting his sights on building a Riveters team that plays the same style of hockey but has more speed and skill than last year’s team did.
The Riveters’ draft picks are expected to play a big role and make an immediate impact and bringing them into the fold appears to be the team’s top priority. What talent the Riveters could add outside of their draft picks remains to be seen, but Wiseman is expecting big changes for his team. It’s clear that he has no intentions of coaching the team with the worst record two years in a row.
Today’s Slapshot: Do you, as the general manager, anticipate significant change in the team’s roster for next season?
Chad Wiseman: Yeah, you know what, to be honest with you, I do. I think you’re going to see a lot of changes with the league in general. I think there’s a really talented group of girls coming out of college this year — all the draft picks from last year. As far as I know, the majority of them are joining the league.
I watched a lot of games this year, I saw a lot of seniors play that are on my list of people to talk to. Again, if you get a handful of these girls to come the quality of play is just going to be even better than year one. So I’m excited to see, when the signing starts, who starts coming to the league, but I definitely do anticipate a lot of changes around the league. Maybe not in Boston (laughter).
TSS: Maybe not! Will signing those draft picks, including Alex Carpenter, be a priority in the offseason for you?
Wiseman: Absolutely. Our draft picks next month here is probably our number one priority to get those players signed and get them ready and to start getting them prepared for next season.
TSS: What do you think the team’s greatest needs that need to be addressed in free agency are?
Wiseman: Obviously our lack of scoring ability I thought was probably our number one. We had a lot of real good hard-nosed hockey players that were dedicated [to the] system and they did whatever they could for the team. But at the end of the day you need to incorporate those skills of goal scoring players within that group of players as well.
There’s got to be a solid balance to your lineup and we were a little top heavy probably on the hardworking, energy kind of players where we were just lacking that ability to put the puck in the net. I think you saw it last year where we had teams we were right there, maybe we were outplaying them for half the game.
Next thing you know, bang bang, the puck’s in our net and we’re down two or three. We just didn’t have that touch of those players that could get us back into the race with scoring.
We also lacked a little bit of experience from a winning standpoint, where some of these girls from the college programs they came from maybe didn’t come from winning programs. We had a few that came from Wisconsin, obviously Ammerman and Packer, that did.
You could see that when we got into tight games, or games where we were up two or three goals in the third. It happened twice this year and we weren’t able to slow the play down, or control the play and hold onto that lead.
That lack of experience having a lead in the third period, or winning — I mean obviously I had nothing else to draw from, other than this one season. If I’d coached them the last three years I would say that was something that should have been addressed by the coach or GM at that point.
But I definitely thought that that hurt us. That’s just something that comes with time, too. When we start winning games this year they’re going to learn quickly how to play with a lead and keep that lead [and] the things that you need to do to keep that lead. I feel like we didn’t have that experience.
TSS: Now as the coach and the GM you have a lot more say and control about the sort of system the team plays. Will there be many changes to what New York Riveters’ hockey looks like next season?
Wiseman: I had full control over the systems last year. I believe there’s a certain way to play the game. I think what you’re going to see is an influx of young, talented, skilled hockey players. They’re going to have a little bit more natural offensive ability on their own. Maybe a little bit more creativity- that’s more of a natural thing.
I think you’re going to see more- one is the pace. We need to pick the pace up, we need speed. Speed kills and we want players that can skate. You saw it in Boston; their second and third line players, on top of their highly skilled players, they can skate.
That’s what we need, it’s the same way the NHL is built now. If you look at their top line and their third and fourth line they can skate, they can all skate and handle the puck. They all have pretty good hockey sense and we’re looking to build the same model around that.
You won’t see much different in our systems. I think that the personnel [is] where you’ll see a little more speed, a little more skill, a little more creativity that will naturally take over on [it’s] own. Which will create more offensive zone time and create more scoring chances and goals, hopefully.