Michigan’s loss to Penn State in the quarterfinal in the Wolverines last hockey game at Joe Louis Arena in March was inevitably the last game for the team’s coach as well.
On Monday, Hockey Hall of Famer and Michigan Men’s Ice Hockey head coach Red Berenson stepped down from behind the bench after 33 seasons at the University of Michigan.
“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,” said Berenson. “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 has been an iconic presence at the University of Michigan ever since the former player was hired at Michigan in 1984-85. He took over a team that was in desperate need to re-establish itself once again in the national picture.
Over the next three decades, Berenson would not only accomplish that but would become the 4th all-time winningest coach in NCAA Hockey history with 848 wins. It would take Berenson 5 seasons to reshape the Wolverines into a soon to be perennial hockey power house. The Wolverines made it to 23 of 27 NCAA Tournaments, making the Froze Four 11 times and two national titles in 1996 and 1998.
Berenson wasn’t just a standout player for the Wolverines but also played 17 years in the NHL for 4 NHL teams (Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, St. Louis Blues and Detroit Red Wings). He would register a hockey feet that just one NHL player has been able to accomplish since. On Nov.7,1968 he scored 6 goals as a member of the St. Louis Blues. In 1965 and 1966, he would have his name forever engrained on the Stanley Cup as a member of the Montreal Canadiens.
In college hockey there have been very few iconic hockey coaches that have made as much as an impact on a program as Berenson has made for the Michigan hockey program. The struggles that the iconic coach has faced in recent years are what some fans have considered a reason the coach should step down from the team.
This season, Coach Berenson went 13-19-3, where the young Michigan would not secure a weekend sweep at home until the regular season finale against Penn State.
Last season, with the help of an experienced hockey team and a very talented freshman, the Wolverines won Berenson and Michigan their first Big Ten Tournament Championship and Berenson’s first Big Ten Coach of the Year award. Michigan lost 5-2 in the regional final to eventual NCAA champion North Dakota Fighting Hawks.
After the Big Ten tournament loss on March 16, would reveal that he planned to retire after last season but chose to stay on as the teams head coach for the 2016-17 season.
It will be hard to not see the iconic coach behind the bench coaching the Maize and Blue but one thing is for sure, Red Berenson has earned to spend his days playing golf, fishing, spending time with his grandchildren and his wife.