Michigan hockey coach Red Berenson retires after 33 seasons

Under Berenson, the Wolverines win the national title in 1996 and 1998.
AP

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Michigan hockey coach Red Berenson is retiring after a 33-season run that included two national championships.

“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,” the 77-year-old Berenson said Monday.

He will become a special adviser to athletic director Warde Manuel, who called Berenson a legend.

Berenson led the Wolverines to national titles in 1996 and 1998 in 11 Frozen Four appearances. He had a record of 848-426-92 and earned a spot in 23 NCAA Tournaments, including an NCAA-record run of 22 straight from 1991 to 2012.

He played hockey at Michigan, winning team MVP awards in 1961 and 1962. He went on to play for 17 seasons in the NHL for Montreal, the New York Rangers, Detroit and St. Louis, scoring 261 goals and assisting on 397.

Berenson started his coaching career with the Buffalo Sabres as an assistant for Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman.

“I thought it was going to be a stop-gap job with us in Buffalo before he got another shot to coach an NHL team,” Bowman has said. “But he got an offer to go back to Michigan. And, he’s been there ever since and has fulfilled a dream.”

Berenson has said in recent years he wasn’t sure how much longer he would coach, going into each season with an open mind.

He didn’t show signs of slowing down, though, as he skated with his players and showed them a glimpse of the skill he had as an NHL player with a record that still stands. Berenson, a six-time NHL All-Star, is the only player in league history to score six goals in a road game, helping St. Louis win at Philadelphia, 8-0, on Nov. 7, 1968.

“He’s almost like a larger-than-life action hero,” Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock once said. “He’s a genetic freak and is still a stud of a gentleman at 70-whatever he is. He embraces life, whether it’s going fishing, on a canoe trip or backpacking. When you talk to him, you can’t help but hold him in high regard.”

Berenson, who is from Regina, Saskatchewan, has said he turned down his alma mater twice before saying yes to leading Michigan’s struggling program in 1984. And having success behind the Wolverines’ bench, NHL teams tried to get him back in the league.

“I had some opportunities,” Berenson said last year in an interview. I remember one guy, I won’t mention his name, from one of the New York teams. He said, `Wouldn’t you like to get back to New York?’ I played for the Rangers. I said, `Have you ever been to Ann Arbor?’ He said, `Oh yeah, it’s really great.’ I said, `Well, that’s the answer. There’s no chance.’ I had done my thing there and I was comfortable here.”