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Brian Wiseman on Sharks’ Power Play, Michigan Scandal, Past Sexual Assault Charges

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Credit: AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

If you want to jumpstart your power play, looking to the Edmonton Oilers makes sense.

The San Jose Sharks announced today that they’re adding Brian Wiseman, most recently of the Oilers, as an assistant coach. He will work with Sharks forwards and the PP, in conjunction with fellow assistant coach Scott Gordon.

Assistant coach Ryan Warsofsky, who will focus on the defense and the penalty kill, rounds out head coach David Quinn’s staff. All three assistant coaches will be on the bench, per Quinn.

Takeaways from Gordon, Warsofsky, Speer, Gialdini’s Presser (+)

Wiseman was with Edmonton from 2019 to 2022, working with assistant coach and lead power play voice Glen Gulutzan. In that time, the Oilers enjoyed the best power play in the NHL with a 27.6 percent success rate.

“There’s lots of learning from there that I hope to bring to our group here,” Wiseman told local media this morning.

Of course, unlike Edmonton, San Jose does not feature Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl on the man advantage. From 2019 to 2022, the Sharks PP was 25th in the league with a 17.1 success rate.

But Wiseman is optimistic: “There’s great players here. There’s a great foundation already in place. They’ve had success in years past.”

In 2018-19, the San Jose Sharks power play was sixth in the NHL. Erik Karlsson, Timo Meier, Tomas Hertl, Logan Couture, and Kevin Labanc remain from that team.

“We have some young up-and-coming kids, guys that are looking to make their mark in this league,” Wiseman added, perhaps referring to William Eklund, Thomas Bordeleau, and Ryan Merkley. “So that’s exciting for a coach like me, with the combination of the stability of a strong leadership group, and some pieces around it to help mold this and get it going in the right direction.”

Quinn and Wiseman have not worked together before, but according to both, sharing a bench has been a long time coming. Quinn noted that he’s known Wiseman for about two decades, back to when Quinn was a University of Nebraska-Omaha assistant coach and Wiseman was a Princeton assistant coach in the early 2000’s.

“I’ve always had a lot of respect for him. He’s a very likable guy and with a wealth of knowledge,” Quinn said. “Just a very good hockey mind and a great person. So we just had a connection from the time we got to know each other, and we’ve got a relationship ever since.”

For his part, Wiseman added: “I remember telling David years ago that I would love to work with him.

“It was something that I looked forward to in my career, to be a part of his staff.”

Wiseman’s name has been in the news a lot recently, for good and bad reasons.

Wiseman, a star University of Michigan center from 1990 to 1994 and a Wolverines assistant coach from 2011 to 2019, was thought of as a potential replacement for head coach Mel Pearson, just fired under a swirl of controversy.

Mann, Shields Fighting Discrimination, Abuse of Power at Michigan

Wiseman says, however, that he hasn’t had any discussions with Michigan about replacing his former boss. Wiseman worked under Pearson in his last two seasons at the university.

“I’m a proud alumni of the University of Michigan, there’s lots of us out there. To see our program and the situation in the reports that are out is disturbing, and it’s disappointing. But I know there’s better days ahead for this program,” he said, noting that the gender-based discrimination and abuses of power that Pearson was accused of weren’t in line with his experience there.

“Ultimately, when I went back to Michigan to be a coach there, that was a goal of mine, to bring all these student-athletes into this program, into this family, and as they exited, they had a positive experience to rely on as their careers and their pathways have taken them forward.”

In early July, the New York Islanders announced that Wiseman would be joining new head coach Lane Lambert’s staff as an assistant coach. But by the end of the month, New York announced that ex-San Jose Sharks assistant coach John MacLean would be taking Wiseman’s place.

As of now, the Islanders have not given an official reason for the change.

“A contract wasn’t in place or fully documented or signed,” Wiseman offered. “As our discussions progressed, ultimately, we decided to go in separate ways.”

Resurfaced Allegations Dogged Wiseman’s Tenure with Islanders?

Going back further, in May 1994, Wiseman and friend Cory Beausejour were charged with sexual assault. Wiseman and Beausejour were acquitted on all counts in Feb. 1996, but subsequently faced a civil lawsuit from their accuser. In Feb. 1997, Wiseman sued his accuser and the CBC for defamation because of an Oct. 1996 CBC show “5th Estate,” which the accuser participated in, that suggested he was wrongly acquitted.

The results of both the civil suit and Wiseman’s lawsuit don’t appear to have been made public. But to the best of SJHN’s knowledge at this time, there was no civil suit settlement or payout to the complainant.

Wiseman issued this statement, via the Sharks, to San Jose Hockey Now: “In the early 1990s, I was falsely accused of sexual assault. You never want to be placed in that position, but I understand that the authorities must take accusations like that extremely seriously, as do I. In my situation, I knew what the truth was, the facts were presented to the court, and in the end, I was declared innocent and found not guilty.”

“Brian was completely transparent with us from the start about that the allegations that were made against him when he was 19 years old,” San Jose Sharks GM Mike Grier said. “The Sharks organization takes accusations of this nature extremely seriously and the type of behavior described would not be tolerated. In this instance, based on the results of the legal process following the accusation in the mid-1990’s, in addition to our own additional diligence and fact-finding, we felt comfortable with the results that came back.”

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