Red Berenson, who led Michigan to 11 Frozen Four appearances in 33 seasons, officially stepped down as the Wolverines’ hockey coach Monday. He’ll remain a special adviser to the program.
It is the end of a legendary era in Ann Arbor, as Michigan’s men’s ice hockey coach Red Berenson announced Monday he has coached his last game.
The 77 year-old’s decision didn’t come as much of a surprise, though, as he had hinted at possibly retiring after last season before ultimately deciding to return for the 2016-17 season.
“This isn’t a wake,” said Berenson, who was greeted at Monday’s press conference by a standing ovation from everyone in attendance. He said coming to Michigan in 1984 “…was the right thing to do. I love Michigan, and I loved the experience that I had [at Michigan].”
There was some speculation as to whether or not Berenson had been asked to step down as the team’s head coach, but he put that to rest by revealing he is choosing to retire rather than sign a long-term contract with the school, which he believes would be against the program’s best interest.
During his opening remarks, the now former Michigan bench boss recalled something said to him by former Michigan athletic director Don Canham at Berenson’s Michigan introductory press conference in 1984.
“Canham said, ‘Well, you’re 44. You don’t want to be coaching when you’re 55.’ And I guess I didn’t listen.”
Berenson took over behind the Wolverines’ bench in 1984 following time as a coach in the NHL, where he won the 1980-81 Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s coach of the year with the St. Louis Blues. While at Michigan, Berenson compiled a record of 828-426-92, appeared in 11 Frozen Fours and won the national championship in 1996 and ’98. He finishes his coaching career as one of only four NCAA men’s ice hockey coaches to amass at least 800 victories.
Despite his increasing age, Berenson never lost an edge behind the Wolverines’ bench. He led the team to an NCAA record 22 consecutive tournament appearances from 1991-2012, and made his last NCAA tournament appearance just one year ago.
During his introductory press conference 33 years ago, Berenson stated the following:
“I’d like to improve the image of the Michigan hockey team on campus and with the alumni.”
It’s safe to say that Red Berenson achieved that goal.