NCAA Hockey: “Red” Retires as Michigan Coach

12/05/14 2014-15 Men's Ice Hockey team defeats Ohio State, 8-3. IHM 2014-15 Win 8-3

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Gordon ‘Red’ Berenson (77) retired as the Men’s Ice Hockey head coach for the Michigan Wolverines.  In a joint appearance by Athletics Director Warde Manuel and Berenson they made the announcement.  He will remain on staff as a special advisor to Manuel.

Michigan went 848-426-92 in Berenson’s 33 years, including the 1996 and 1998 NCAA National Championships.   Berenson’s accomplishments behind the bench at Michigan put him among the greatest coaches in college hockey history.

Berenson is one of four college hockey coaches to amass more than 800 career wins.  He went 848-426-92 (.654 winning percentage) in 1,366 games.  Only Jerry York (1,033), the late Ron Mason (924) and Jack Parker (897) won more games.

“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 was named the 2015–16 Big Ten Coach of the Year.

The iconic coach was hired by Don Canham in May of 1984.  Under Berenson, the Wolverines have qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 23 of the past 27 seasons.  His run of 22 consecutive appearances from 1991-2002 marks the longest streak ever in college hockey.

Berenson was one of the best players in Michigan hockey history, earning All-America honors in both his junior and senior seasons (1961, ‘62).  His 43 goals and nine hat tricks in his last season still stand as Michigan records.  As a senior, he led the WCHA in scoring and was named the league’s MVP.  Berenson holds two degrees from the University of Michigan, his bachelor’s degree from the School of Business Administration in 1962 and a Master of Business Administration degree in 1966.

Red Berenson with the “30th anniversary of College Hockey in the D” poster (Photo by Lars Hjelmroth)

He wanted to go to law school at Michigan but Montreal gave him a better offer.  Berenson played in the National Hockey League for 17 years as a member of the Montreal Canadians, New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues.  A six time NHL All-Star, in 1968 he scored six goals in a game for the Blues.  He retired as a player in 1978 with 261 goals and 397 assists for 658 career points in 987 games.

Following his playing career, Berenson became a coach.  The high point in his NHL coaching tenure was a team record for St. Louis of 107 points in 1980-81.  This gained him the Jack Adams Award as Coach of the Year.  In 1982 he joined the Buffalo Sabres as an assistant under Scotty Bowman.  This arrangement worked well until Berenson received the offer to coach at his alma mater.

A native of Regina, Saskatchewan and right out of Junior hockey, he played for the Belleville McFarlands (Ontario) that represented Canada at the World Championships in Prague, Czechoslovakia.  In March of 1959 he scored nine goals in eight games and led the McFarlands to a gold victory over the Soviet Union.

Peppered throughout the audience at the Junge Center were his current team and some former players.  Included also were Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh and basketball coach John Beilein.  “Here’s one thing that resonates,” Beilein said. “Red said, ‘Practice like you’re in second place, and then play like you’re in first place.’  I just said it to my team before we went to the (NCAA) Tournament when we had all the success.  We’re going to practice like we’re in second place, but we’re going to play like champions.”

Berenson prided academic achievement while coaching at Michigan and encouraged players that left his program early to pursue a pro hockey career to make continued progress on their degree.  “So I guess now life after hockey will start officially.  And I’m okay with that,” said Berenson.

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