10B - The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - November 15, 2004
By Ryan Sosin - Daily Sports Writer
N Ml Pearson and Billy Powers are in the business of selling
Michigan hockey. The Wolverines' associate head coach
d assistant coach have made names for themselves with
the caliber of players who have led Michigan to a pair of national
titles on their watch.
When Red Berenson - currently in his 21st season - retires,
Pearson will have to begin selling himself to Michigan. His job isn't
in jeopardy. But at some point in the relatively near future, the Wol-
verines will need a man to take over the reins.
Berenson, who turns 66 next month, has yet to tip his hand with
regard to retirement. But both of his assistants have made clear their
initention to stay with the program, passing on numerous opportuni-
ties at other schools.
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There was an era in Michigan hockey when making a run in the
NCAA Tournament wasn't expected and conference championships
were a thing of the history books. This was the era - from 1965
to 1983 - of a struggling Wolverine hockey program devoid of an
NCAA tournament appearance. It was in 1984 that Berenson was
charged with restoring prominence to a school whose most recent
national championship banner was raised 21 years before his arrival.
Berenson decision to enter the college ranks following success
on the NHL level as a player (for Montreal, St. Louis, Detroit and
New York) and coach put him in a rare class. He gave the athletic
department the hope that he could lure players to the program while
building up the team's tradition once again.
"There's no doubt that Red's pro background when he first got
into college was a big issue "Powers said. "Because there weren't as
many, if any, (former pros) coaching college."
Even today, players recognize Berenson as one of the positive
draws to Michigan. Senior alternate captain Brandon Rogers -who
grew up following the Wolverines from New Hampshire - agrees
that Berenson's name still attracts players, but says that the tradition
and success now eclipse simple name recognition.
On the recruiting trail, Pearson and Powers receive inquiries about
Red, but the questions have become more sporadic as the program
continues to stand in the national spotlight.
"Obviously Red's been here for so long and been so successful
and his integrity speaks for itself-I think you build that in as well,"
Pearson said. "But Michigan is a pretty attractive place right now,
and you just want to make sure you continue to keep it up there with
the top programs.
"They've heard a lot of the kids we have on our team - the num-
ber of draft choices, for example. They've heard of Yost Ice Arena
and how rockin'-and-rollin' it is in this building and what a unique
place it is to play," he added.
When Berenson steps down, it will be one less selling point in a
long list of reasons to play at Michigan. If Pearson is named head
coach, the reputation he has built up under Berenson should help
offset any impact that the retirement might have on the recruiting
40"It's going to be a little tougher," Pow-
ers said. "But I don't think its going to be
that big of a deal as long as people can
appreciate what (the program) was here,
what it's become and what it took to get here."
All in the family
When practice comes to an end, the focused look begins to fade
from Pearson's face. Pearson hops over the boards onto the ice like
he's still in the prime of his career. The coach, who exudes fire both
in the color of his hair and in his attitude, is crashing the net. He
begins to bang on the ice, soliciting apass from senior Brandon Rog-
ers. As the puck bounces around at Pearson's feet, the smiles from
an exhausted team begin to show. Finally, Pearson deposits the puck
in the net and gives a fist pump to acknowledge his feat - a feat he
accomplished 21 times during his four-year career as a forward at
Early in his coaching career as an assistant at Michigan Tech, that
player mentality was not reserved for a few choice minutes. It was
almost too prevalent, he said.
"I think I'm removed from that now, but there are times when I'd
like to be out there still,"Pearson said. "I kid the guys once in a while
that if I could play, I know I could guarantee a victory tonight. But I
His players and fellow coaches describe Pearson as passionate,
thorough, intense, funny and professional.When his name is brought
up, players begin beaming.
"It's a Jekyll-and-Hyde," Berenson said. "When you meet
him, most of the time he's happy-go-lucky and easy
going. But when the game starts, you'd think
he's playing in the game."
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