Whatever Happened To The Next Wayne Gretzky – Brian Wiseman?

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I was going through a box of magazines I’ve hung on to over the years, just to see why, and I came across a Today magazine from 1981. And leafing through the pages, I saw the reason I’d kept this one in particular. Because inside was a feature story on a nine year old kid who was burning up the ice and was going to be the next Wayne Gretzky.

His name was Brian Wiseman, he lived in Bothwell, Ontario, near London, and he was a centreman for the Bothwell Atom All-Stars. He was the definitive can’t-miss kid, a sure bet, and everyone was raving about him. At the time of the article, he had scored 114 goals in 31 games, and the year before, he notched 413 goals in 80 games. Gretzky had only managed a paltry 378 goals as a ten year old in the same amount of games.

The article called him the most sensational, most exciting, most promising hockey player in the country. Fans came from miles around to see him play. Wayne Gretzky said to him, “Brian, get yourself an agent. Fast.” Those whose job it was to know said he’d be big like Howe, Richard, Hull, Orr, and Gretzky. Imagine.

The article tells us about the time Brian’s team whipped Ridgetown 21-2 the previous year and he scored 17 of the goals, how he had just scored eight of his team’s 12 goals in a recent game, that he likes milk and cookies, and course, numerous examples of mean-spirited parents from opposing teams heckling him and all the other headaches a little kid with a big talent shouldn’t have to go through.

After reading this article, I started wondering what might have happened to the young fellow. We know he didn’t become the next Wayne Gretzky, but did he actually have a hockey career, or did he eventually find other interests and quit, as so many kids do?

So I looked him up and here he is. He played three games with the Leafs, scoring no points, and now works for an oil and gas company in Houston, Texas. However, when you look at his numbers below, you see that he had some excellent years at university and in the minors.

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1990-91 U. of Michigan NCAA 47 25 33 58 58          
1991-92 U. of Michigan NCAA 44 27 44 71 76          
1992-93 U. of Michigan NCAA 35 13 37 50 40          
1993-94 U. of Michigan NCAA 40 19 50 69 44          
1994-95 Chicago Wolves IHL 75 17 55 72 52 3 1 1 2 4
1995-96 Chicago Wolves IHL 73 33 55 88 117
1996-97 St. John’s Maple Leafs AHL 71 33 62 95 83 7 5 4 9 8
1996-97 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 3 0 0 0 0
1997-98 Houston Aeros IHL 78 26 72 98 86 4 0 3 3 8
1998-99 Houston Aeros IHL 77 21 88 109 106 19 3 13 16 26
1999-00 Houston Aeros IHL 72 15 38 53 52 3 0 1 1 6

19 thoughts on “Whatever Happened To The Next Wayne Gretzky – Brian Wiseman?”

  1. Dennis,

    You find some pretty interesting pieces to write about!
    😉

    It amazes me sometimes how so many players are “shure thing” guys…. and then over the years you kinda look back and see that some of these players barely played (if any) in the NHL.

    Not quite the same subject, but I was kinda thinking about Ryan McDonagh… he was hyped as being a can’t miss guy. He still may become a no 1 Dman.

    But, he’s 20 or 21 and hasn’t played a pro game yet. Some players play pro at 18 and 19. So maybe it was the pure potential they saw in him.

    Don’t know.. .just sayin’…

    As always… love the blog Dennis.

  2. Gainey said recently that McDonagh hadn’t developed like they thought he would. And you’re right, he hasn’t played a pro game yet. And as far as the can’t miss types, I played against a guy often from Huntsville that was like that and I did a story about him some time ago. http://dennis-kane.com/huntsvilles-john-macwilliams-couldve-been-a-star/ He was just great.
    And Yves, when you say you love this blog it means a great deal to me. Thanks for saying that.

  3. Sometimes it simply has to do with where a guy is drafted.

    John Slaney comes to mind. A “can’t-miss” d-man, he was drafted by the Capitals 9th overall in 1990. Scored the game-winner in the gold medal game for Canada against the Russians.

    But the problem is he was drafted by Washington. At the time, they had Kevin Hatcher, Calle Johnasson, Al Iafrate, Rod Langway, Sylvain Cote, etc. There was no way he was cracking that lineup.

    But he continued to have success, and is the leading all-time defenceman in the AHL.

    It’s quite possible this guy was the same way. Tons of talent, but he’s trying to crack a team that had Gilmour, Sundin, Clark, Muller, etc.

  4. not every kid gets the support staff or the help he needs in order to reach his full potential. Now, I don’t know what happened to Wiseman but he ended up on his feet (sounds like he’s a successful professional today) and hockey is probably the farthest thing from his mind.

    Not all of these youthful phenoms come out of the pressure cooker in good shape, you know and I’m pleased that Wiseman made it through okay

  5. I played against a kid named John MacWilliams who was great too. You know, the worst part of the whole story is hearing that he had to put up with moron parents from the opposing team who couldn’t handle the fact that some kid on the other team was killing them. They just wished their kid was that good.

  6. I couldn’t agree with your last point more, Dennis

    Some of the best people you’ll ever meet are to be found in hockey – and some of the worst people you’ll ever meet are to be found in hockey, too.

    I’ve seen both.

  7. …the guy didn’t play in the NHL because of the ‘size’ concern when he was coming into the league…the league was in a size movement, where to crack a lineup, you needed to be big, fast, and tough…..then the league began to question itself in terms of promotion, and came up with this crazy notion that more goals would put people in the seats…hello?…NHL?….this guy would’ve done that for you……since then, we’ve seen Stamkos, St. Louis, Kessel,etc….Brian would have been in this class of players had the league not been so interested in the size of players, as opposed to their actual speed and skill level…..you’re not on top of NCAA, AHL, and IHL statistics because you’re lucky…….

  8. Thanks Ryan. Yes, it seems a big guy with less talent would scoop a job back then ahead of a smaller and more talented guy. Brian looked to be a “can’t miss” and it’s too bad. Thanks for checking in. I appreciate it.

  9. In truth, Brian didn’t get more than a kick at the can because of numerous concussion problems.

    Sure size was an issue in his day, but when Theo Fluery was still having his hayday, it can’t be all size related. Wiseman also broke the Ontario Junior B scoring record held by Ed Olcyck with 147 points in 40 games before he headed to the University of Michigan, where if you compare his numbers to the guys getting big NHL contracts today out of the NCAA, he didn’t just put up good numbers, he put up incredible numbers.

    In his 109 point season with Houston he was also the IHL MVP. If not for concussions he would have got another shot, and sure, he was no Gretzky, but he might have been another Martin St. Louis.

  10. Thanks, Ian. Very interesting. He obviously had natural talent, but concussions can make a huge difference and it’s too bad. Seems like he’s had a good life regardless, and he should be proud of his earlier accomplishments. I wish I could’ve been that good when I was young.

  11. Just a note of Interest , Brian has just been hired as assistant coach at University of Michigan

  12. Hi Shawn. This was written in 2009, a couple of years before he joined U of Michigan.

  13. It’s dangerous to go back to these old articles. Turns out Gainey was right about Ryan McDonagh, what a major bust he turned out to be. Good thing we traded him for Gomez.

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