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UM hockey coach Red Berenson retires after 33 years

MGoBlue screen shot
Gordon "Red" Berenson announcing retirement

The man who led the University of Michigan's hockey program for 33 years is retiring.

77-year-old Red Berenson says he was getting questions on the recruiting trail about how long he'd remain head coach – and it seemed the right time to "get out of the way."

He says he'll play a distant role as an advisor when it comes time to choose his replacement.

"I hope there's some Michigan awareness or Michigan connection for a coach that will feel the right way about what a Michigan man should be like, or what a Michigan team should be like," Berenson said at the press conference announcement the retirement.

Michigan went 848-426-92 (.654) in the Berenson era, including the 1996 and 1998 NCAA National Championships – the eighth and ninth in school history.

Berenson's accomplishments behind the bench at Michigan puts him among the greatest coaches in college hockey history. He is fourth on the NCAA ice hockey coaches all-time win list.

Michigan Radio sports commentator John U. Bacon says Berenson had virtually no scandals on his watch, and the academic performance of his players was just as important as their performance on the ice.

Bacon is the author of Blue Ice: The Story of Michigan Hockey. He says more than 90% of Berenson's players earned a degree at the University of Michigan – except for a few years when talented athletes left early for the NHL.

"In 1996 and 1998, his teams both won the NCAA title – national champs," says Bacon. "From those teams, four players earned medical degrees from the University of Michigan. They are now doctors and three of them were starters."

Berenson started his career in hockey at the University of Michigan.  He is one of the top players in Michigan Hockey history, earning All-America and Michigan Most Valuable Player honors in both his junior and senior seasons in 1961 and 1962.

He played in the NHL for 17 years as a member of the Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues, before becoming a coach.

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.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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