Berenson announces retirement after 33 seasons at Michigan

Red Berenson coached his Michigan for 33 seasons (photo: Melissa Wade).

Red Berenson, who led Michigan to two national championships in 33 seasons coaching his alma mater, is retiring, the school announced on Monday.

“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,” Berenson said in a statement released by the school. “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.”

Michigan was 848-426-92 under Berenson and won the 1996 and 1998 NCAA championships.

“Red Berenson is a legendary figure at the University of Michigan as well as in our ice hockey history,” said Donald R. Shepherd Director of Athletics Warde Manuel. “Throughout his career, Red has focused on the academic and athletic success of the young men who have come through our program while shaping the sport as we know it today.”

Prior to taking the coaching job at Michigan, Berenson spent three years as the coach of the St. Louis Blues and two years as an assistant under the legendary Scotty Bowman at Buffalo. Those coaching jobs in the NHL came after a productive career as a player in the NHL with the Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues. He finished with 261 goals and 397 assists in 987 games — the most career points by any Michigan alumnus in the NHL.

As a coach with the St. Louis Blues, Berenson earned the Jack Adams Award as NHL Coach of the Year in 1981, then spent two seasons as Bowman’s assistant.

Berenson took the coaching position at Michigan in 1984 at a down time for the program, where Michigan was actually considering dropping the hockey program altogether. Berenson, who was a three-year letter-winner as a player with Michigan, resurrected Michigan as a hockey power.

Under Berenson, the Wolverines qualified for the NCAA tournament in 23 of the past 27 seasons. Berenson led Michigan to 22 consecutive appearances in the NCAA tournament from 1991-2012, the longest streak ever in college hockey. During those years, Michigan reached the NCAA Frozen Four 11 times, won national championships in 1996 and 1998, and lost the national title game in 2011 3-2 in overtime to Minnesota-Duluth.

Berenson became the fourth collegiate ice hockey coach to record 800 career victories, which he achieved with a 7-5 win against Minnesota on Jan. 10, 2015. Berenson’s 848 victories place him fourth on the  all-time win list behind Boston College coach Jerry York (1,033), the late Ron Mason of Michigan State (924), and former Boston University coach Jack Parker (897).

Most recently, Berenson was named 2016 Big Ten coach of the year, leading Michigan to a record 36th NCAA tournament appearance in program history, and the 23rd NCAA bid in his tenure at Michigan.