April 10, 2017 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Red Berenson Retires After 33 Years

Steps Down 4th All-Time in Wins with 848

 (photo: Russ Hons)

(photo: Russ Hons)

CHN Staff Report

Red Berenson, at the announcement of his hiring at Michigan in May, 1984.

Red Berenson, at the announcement of his hiring at Michigan in May, 1984.

Red Berenson, two-time national championship coach, is retiring after 33 seasons as head coach of Michigan. A news conference has been scheduled for 4:30 p.m. (ET) today.

Berenson, 77, retires with 848 career wins, which is fourth all-time. He led the Wolverines to national titles in 1996 and 1998, and 23 NCAA tournament appearances all together, including 22 straight from 1991 to 2012, the longest streak of any team ever. His teams also made 11 Frozen Fours, including a loss in the 2011 championship game, and produced 73 future NHL players.

"I've thought about this for a long time and I think this is the right time and it's the right thing to do for the Michigan hockey program," Berenson said. "My heart will always be at Michigan and I look forward to the team taking the next step and making me proud as a former coach."

Berenson considered stepping down last year, after a 25-win season and a return to the NCAAs. But he decided that he wanted to give new athletic director Warde Manual time to settle into the job. After losing four blue-chip underclassmen last offseason, including Zach Werenski and Hobey Baker Award finalist Kyle Connor, the Wolverines went 13-19-3 this past season and lost in the first round of the Big Ten tournament.

"Red Berenson is a legendary figure at the University of Michigan as well as in our ice hockey history," said Manuel. "Throughout his career, Red has focused on the academic and athletic success of the young men who have come through our program while shaping the sport as we know it today. He has developed an astounding 73 NHL players but, more importantly, he has positively impacted hundreds of young men. We are forever grateful for his contributions to the University of Michigan and I look forward to continuing working with Red for years to come."

Thoughts will, of course, turn to possible successors. Long-time assistant Mel Pearson, instrumental in recruiting many of those great teams, is not the head coach at Michigan Tech and considered a candidate, but it's not clear if he wants the job at this point. Billy Powers is an assistant on the staff now, and has been there 24 years. Brian Wiseman is also an assistant now, an alum, and a younger choice. Another young alumnus, Bill Muckalt, has spent time as a D-I assistant and is currently a head coach in the USHL. There will be no shortage of applicants.

A native of Regina, Saskatchewan, Berenson played three years at Michigan from 1959-62. His 43 goals and nine hat tricks in his last season still stand as Michigan records. He then embarked on a 17-year NHL career, becoming the first college hockey player to jump directly to the world's top league. He had 261 goals and 657 points in 987 career games with Montreal, the New York Rangers, Detroit and St. Louis before retiring.

Berenson started his coaching career with the St. Louis Blues, eventually taking over as head coach and winning the Jack Adams Award in 1981.

But at that time, Michigan hockey had fallen into disarray. After being a powerhouse in the early days of the NCAAs, the school was considering dropping the sport until Berenson was named coach in 1984.

"I'd like to improve the image of the Michigan hockey team on campus and with the alumni," Berenson said at his opening press conference. "I think that now people will be thinking more highly about the program."

After a number of years building the program, the Wolverines busted out with a 34-win season in 1990-91 and its first trip to the NCAAs in 14 years. That started a run of eight straight 30-win seasons, with six Frozen Fours and two national titles in that span.

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