Skip to content

Coaching change shouldn't mean too many changes for Storm

Chad Wiseman will be getting lots of advice, but it's important to let him call the shots
20220428 storm vs hounds ts 14
Chad Wiseman, right, stands behind the Storm bench with George Burnett last April.

Scott Walker wanted to get one thing straight: he's not dying.

In typical Walker fashion – with a chuckle – he made it clear that while the health reasons that forced him to step down as head coach of the Guelph Storm this week are serious and concerning, they are not critical.

He fully intends on returning to the game he loves, but getting healthy is the priority and it won't be this season.

Symptoms from a lingering blood pressure issue mean he can't be behind the bench. Or at the rink in any consistent way.

For someone that has spent a rather significant portion of his life in the rink, knowing he now has to stay away from it is a tough pill to swallow.

He was excited to be back behind the bench, excited about what season would hold for a talented team and excited about coaching his son in his last year of junior hockey.

But health comes first. This year he will be giving advice to coaching staff and players, mentoring when and how he can and when his health allows, but not as a regular presence.

If you know Walker, you know the level of competitiveness he brings to the table once the puck drops. As cordial and easy going as he is most of the time, once the game is on he's a different person. That burning desire to win is one of the things that separates those that play in the NHL and those that didn't quite make it.

So any sense of dialing it back or being around occasionally when health allowed, didn't make sense. Scott Walker is not a half-assed kind of guy.

Now the coaching duties fall on the shoulders of Chad Wiseman, who has been waiting in the wings for five years for the opportunity to be a head coach in the league. No doubt he will have plenty of input from the experienced Todd Miller, GM George Burnett and Walker.

But it's Wiseman that has to be given the freedom to make the decisions and call the shots. If not there could be all kinds of levels of dysfunction that result.

Wiseman has a long and varied hockey background, skating beside Jason Spezza and others as a very solid junior, a long pro career that included a cup of coffee in the NHL and playing for some pretty good coaches over the years, including Jim Hulton, Peter DeBoer, Jim Schoenfeld and Bruce Boudreau.

Will the systems change under Wiseman? Not likely, at least on a significant basis.

What will change is the personality and the approach. No two coaches are the same, and while Wiseman has absorbed a lot from Walker and before him Burnett, he will have his own unique approach.

He knows the players, he knows the league. And, opening week aside, Wiseman has got a pretty good team for a first go round in the OHL, where new coaches are usually joining struggling or rebuilding squads.

Will it all mesh? Time will tell. But the knowledge and the experience to lead the team has shifted, but it's still there.

Wiseman's head coaching debut comes tonight against the Flint Firebirds.


Verified reader

If you would like to apply to become a verified commenter, please fill out this form.

Tony Saxon

About the Author: Tony Saxon

Tony Saxon has had a rich and varied 30 year career as a journalist, an award winning correspondent, columnist, reporter, feature writer and photographer.
Read more