Chad Wiseman coaching his team. Photo by Troy Parla
NWHL Season 3 is almost here, with the opening day of the regular season on Saturday, Oct. 28. The New York Riveters kick off their preseason on Oct. 15 when they skate in the first of two games against Team Russia in the "Summit Series. Once again behind the bench for the Rivs will be Coach Chad Wiseman, who has guided the team since the inaugural season.
Last season the Riveters showed the greatest improvement among the Founding Four teams, vaulting from fourth place in Season One to second place in the standings in 2016-17. Now they appear poised to take the next step as they set their sights on getting their hands on the 2018 Isobel Cup.
Recently we spoke with Wiseman about his uniquely busy in-season schedule and some of the mentors that have influenced his managing style, among other topics.
NWHL: We’ve heard that you have quite an extensive and unique commute. What can you tell us about what these past two NWHL seasons have been like for you travel-wise? For instance, a normal NWHL week where you have two practices and a game?
Chad Wiseman: If we played a game on Sunday, my week would look something like this: I’ll drive into New Jersey from Toronto on Tuesday for our practice in the evening. After practice is done I’ll drive to Bridgeport, Connecticut where I’ll spend Wednesday and Thursday mornings on the ice as a skill development coach with New York Islanders’ AHL team, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Then I’ll drive back to Newark for the Riveters’ Thursday night practice.
I’ll get back in the car after that practice to head back to Toronto, where I’ll usually arrive around 3:30 am. I’ll get up with my kids for school at 7:00 am, and I get to spend Friday and Saturday with the family and head back south to New Jersey early on Sunday morning to make it in time for our game. I’ll then stay in town Monday and Tuesday. I again leave Tuesday night after our practice to head to Bridgeport to work with the Sound Tigers. On the weekends where we don’t have a game, I would get to spend Sunday and Monday at home with my family, on top of the weekend, and then head back Tuesday morning and do it all over again.
NWHL: How do you prepare for each game? Do you game-plan differently for different teams or stick with your system and beliefs?
Wiseman: (Assistant Coach) Sis Paulsen and I pre-scout all games. We’ll break down some video and look at other teams’ tendencies – especially the other team’s power play and penalty kill. We will make minor tweaks to what we want to do for certain opponents, but at the end of the day, we are more concerned with ourselves and what we are doing. We are confident in what we do and believe in our team structure, system, and most importantly our players.
NWHL: Which coach or coaches have had the most influence on your coaching style? When you were playing did you ever see yourself as a future coach?
Wiseman: (Current San Jose Sharks Head Coach) Peter DeBoer is one coach I look up to and have a tremendous amount of respect for. He definitely best prepared me for my future, both as an athlete and person. I have always wanted to be a coach, and coaching is my true passion. But don't get me wrong, I loved playing the game and was fortunate enough to have a playing career for a long time.
NWHL: All of the Riveters that we’ve spoken with over the past two years seem to really enjoy your coaching style and methods. Why do you think that is?
Wiseman: I’d like to think it’s because I treat them like professional athletes. I am tough but fair, and I think they respect that. I have a lot of respect for them as well.
NWHL: You recruited and signed Miye D’Oench, Alexa Gruschow, Rebecca Russo, Katie Fitzgerald, Michelle Picard, and Courtney Burke who each had impressive first pro seasons. Maybe most importantly all of them re-enlisted for Season 3 in the NWHL with your team. That has to be a good feeling to know that they have all bought into whatever it is that you’re selling…
Chad Wiseman: We have built a strong foundation of good, character people here with the Riveters. I spent four seasons with the New Jersey Devils organization and have a great deal of respect for Lou Lamoriello and what he did with the organization. I like the way he ran his organization in New Jersey, and the loyalty he had towards the good, strong, character people in the organization. Building that kind of environment is contagious and attracts more of those types of people and athletes. When you have these kind of athletes, it’s easy to have them buy into your program. It’s also usually why they want to be on board with a particular franchise.
Chad Wiseman: We have kept intact a great core of our players from last season. Additions like those will only make us a stronger group going forward.
NWHL: With the extended rosters this season, how difficult will it be to make lineup decisions if everyone is healthy?
Chad Wiseman: It won't be hard. It’s all part of the head coach’s job. I’m hoping it creates a healthier compete level for our practices – which in turn will make us a better team.