Last week, the New York Islanders hired John MacLean as an assistant head coach after announcing that Brian Wiseman would no longer be behind the bench for the 2022-23 season. No reason was given for the change.
Wiseman had been hired along with Doug Houda back on July 5.
However, a Chicago Tribune article from over 21 years ago that recently resurfaced on social media with extensive reaction could provide insight into the reason why Wiseman is out on Long Island.
In 1996, a 24-year-old Wiseman and a fitness instructor named Cory Beausejour faced trial for the sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl that occurred five years earlier in 1991.
Wiseman was 19 at the time and was in the middle of his sophomore season at the University of Michigan.
The University of Michigan men’s ice hockey program is under heavy scrutiny, as head coach Mel Pearson is accused of berating staff, misleading recruits, and retaliating against former team captain Strauss Mann.
Hockey Now colleague Sheng Peng wrote a story on Tuesday regarding the termination of former San Jose Sharks netminder Steven Shields from the University of Michigan coaching staff after he voiced concerns about Michigan’s director of hockey operations, Rick Bancroft, and his discriminatory acts against female employees, as well as Pearson’s treatment of Mann, among other issues.
Mann, Shields Fighting Discrimination, Abuse of Power at Michigan
Although the Wiseman accusations and the Pearson accusations may not have a direct connection, the hockey culture at Michigan is under examination and and it may have stirred past stories which were otherwise unknown or old news.
The alleged 1991 assault by Wiseman and Beausejour occurred in Wiseman’s hometown of Chatham, Ontario. It was reported a few years later in 1993, and the case was tried in court in 1996.
Both Wiseman and Beausejour were acquitted of all charges.
Wiseman’s first court date ended in a mistrial on a technicality. His defense was not informed of key evidence: a letter from the complainant’s mother that had been given to the police.
This is how the Chicago Tribune closed out its article following the court’s verdict of the second trial:
“The woman, whose identity is protected by the court, slumped from her seat and fell to the floor, crying and screaming, when the verdict was announced. She remained there about 30 minutes while relatives consoled her.”
Sexual assault has been a hot topic in hockey this summer as Hockey Canada is dealing with at least two alleged assaults from their 2003 and 2018 World Juniors squads, as well as the public discovery of a fund to handle such incidents. Hockey Canada is currently undergoing parliamentary hearings regarding its handling of the matters.
NYI Hockey Now reached out to the Islanders regarding the departure of Wiseman from their coaching staff. The team responded by saying that Lou Lamoriello will address that in his next availability.
Wiseman, 50, played four years at the University of Michigan (1990-1994) before a two-year stay in the IHL with the Chicago Wolves. From there, he went to the Toronto Maple Leafs AHL affiliate at the time, the St. John’s Maple Leafs.
A 12th-round selection in 1991, Wiseman played just three NHL games with Toronto. After his short NHL career, he finished his professional playing days back in the IHL as a member of the Houston Aeros (1997-2000).
In 2011, Wiseman returned to his alma mater as an assistant coach. He held that position until 2019, when he accepted the assistant coaching job with the Edmonton Oilers.
You are presumed innocent until proven guilty in all democratic courts. However, heightened sensitivity and credible allegations at a time when the hockey world is trying to clean up other messes may have been a bad combination and bad timing for the Islanders’ hire.
Welcome to your new home for New York Islanders breaking news, analysis and opinion. Like us on Facebook
, follow us on Twitter
and don't forget to subscribe to NYHN+
for all of our members-only content from Christian Arnold and the National Hockey Now network.