Wiseman learns under Red Berenson

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Brian Wiseman behind the bench with the University of Michigan Wolverines. (Photo by Michigan Wolverines Athletics)
Brian Wiseman behind the bench with the University of Michigan Wolverines. (Photo by Michigan Wolverines Athletics)

Brian Wiseman has likely heard the jokes about his last name before, especially if he was caught doing something “unwise.” Luckily for the University of Michigan Wolverines men’s hockey assistant coach, and local playing legend, he’s been anything but unwise in his budding coaching career.

Originally from Bothwell, Wiseman has spent the past several seasons pursuing his coaching dreams in different cities, but since 2011, has managed to stay in one place, at his NCAA hockey playing alma mater, the University of Michigan.

“It’s been tremendous; it’s a place I’m comfortable,” said Wiseman of coaching at Michigan, where he captained the Wolverines in the early 1990s. “I have good memories here, and I believe in what we do, what we can do for kids, and helping players trying to live their dream.”

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As for the day-to-day coaching, Wiseman is in a unique situation, working with Red Berenson, a long time NHLer, who won the NHL coach of the year award before taking over as Michigan’s head coach in 1984. Berenson is considered one of hockey’s greatest coaches, and Wiseman is working to become even wiser, soaking up knowledge from his mentor.

“Red is second to none,” said Wiseman. “He’s an active learner even at 74 years old. He looks to get better every day through conferences, talking to other coaches, and keeps pushing to improve.

“It’s great for me watching Red. It’s what I want to do as a career in hockey and coaching, and be a tireless worker like that. He really has the players’ best interest at heart at all times, in all circumstances. Not just athletically, but as people to become better citizens.”

Although Wiseman is learning each day coaching at Michigan, he also attributes much of his success, and coaching style, to early coaches in Bothwell and Chatham.

“I had some great coaches,” said Wiseman of his minor hockey days, listing off familiar last names such as Vanroboys, Hamilton, Jacklin, English, Sabourin, and his own father.

“These coaches had energy, passion, and it rubbed off. I wanted to have energy and be intense, and I take the same approach my coaches did.

“In junior, my coaches taught me preparation and commitment. I look back to my early coaches and their attributes, and its how I coach now. “

From his coaches to his on ice experiences in Chatham, including a record-setting season in 1989-90, when he scored 147 points playing Junior B in Chatham, Wiseman valued his time at home, and feels fortunate to have played in his hometown.

“I took a lot of pride in the fact of being able to play at home,” said Wiseman. “So many kids chase the next level somewhere else, I was fortunate to be able to play at home in front of fans and friends, and achieve my goal to get a scholarship.”

Last season, Chatham’s Kyle Brothers scored 122-points, the most any Maroon has scored since Wiseman, and although Wiseman still holds the record, he hopes that changes, and believes it will someday.

“Chatham has a history of fielding excellent teams, so a new player, doing new things, will eventually come along and I hope they do break that record,” said Wiseman, who spent a decade playing pro hockey, including a stint with the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs. “I would love for someone to break that record. It would be an honour.”

Happily hoping to see his record fall, Wiseman also thinks it’s time the Chatham Maroons unretire his number 9.

“I would like Chatham to unretire my number,” said Wiseman. “I love the recognition, but to prevent someone to wear number 9 if they love that number, I don’t agree with it anymore. It would be an honour for me to see a young player wear that number,” added Wiseman, who also said he’d be in Chatham to scout the Maroons for NCAA prospects.

With a storied past of records behind him, and presently, a coveted job at Michigan, Wiseman isn’t looking too far ahead, but hopes he can continue his NCAA coaching career as a Wolverine for the foreseeable future.

“I don’t look too far into future of what might be ahead,” said Wiseman. “I love Michigan, and having a direct impact with this program. It’s a tremendous destination for my career. Who knows what the future holds, but as far as I can see, this is home for now, and I hope I can be a part of the Michigan program for a very long time to come.”

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