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It’s been a tough two weeks for Rams men’s hockey head coach Graham Wise.
He was served a four-game suspension. His close friend and assistant was fired. And his team was forced to forfeit two crucial games in the standings.
On Monday, Wise was finally able to move on and get back to business.
Wise returned to the team this week and addressed the media for the first time since his – and his team’s – suspension was handed down Nov. 4 after players were caught drinking alcohol on a New Jersey road trip last month.
“I take full responsibility for what happened in Princeton, and apologize for that,” said Wise. “But life goes on.”
For Wise, life unfortunately goes on without his longtime assistant Lawrence Smith, who was fired for his involvement in the Princeton saga. Wise and Smith coached together for 16 years, the last eight at Ryerson.
“It was tough on him,” said Rams forward Jamie Wise, son of Graham. “He lost a good friend of his. He’s still trying to get over that.”
Out of respect to Smith and his service to the team, coach Wise announced Monday that he would not look to fill the vacant assistant position this season.
“I think Johnny (Duco) and myself will run through this year,” said Wise, in reference to his other assistant coach. “I have total confidence in him. I think the two of us will work well together.”
In Wise’s absence, Duco led the Rams to a 2-0 record fuelled by an impressive offensive display. Duco’s Rams earned 7-1 and 9-5 victories against RMC and Carleton respectively last weekend.
Duco is content with Wise’s decision.
“That’s a nice pat on the back for me,” said Duco, who led the team while filling in as interim head coach during Wise’s suspension.
With Wise back in the fold, the Rams now prepare for their first road trip since that fateful weekend in October. The team heads to Sudbury to play the Laurentian Voyageurs Friday before facing Nipissing on Saturday.
“We’re going to definitely give them the riot act,” said Duco. “If that means stopping by the rooms more than once, then that’s what we’ll have to do.”
“We’ve got to follow the rules,” added Wise. “I’m sure our players will respond.”
As for the players, they don’t anticipate there being any issues this time around.
“(There’ll be) none of the off-ice shenanigans,” said son Jamie. “We’re just going to play hockey.”
This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on November 20, 2013.