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June 01, 1984 - Image 19

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1984-06-01

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Thi Michigan daiily - ridoyJune 1,1984 - ge 19
Red on Blue: Berenson adds color,
hope to icers future

By MIKE MCGRAW
The new Wolverine hockey coach
shouldn't have much of a problem con-
vincing top prospects that Michigan.is a
place where they can start a long and
successful career in the sport. A perfect
example of such a story will be standing
right behind the bench.
Red Berenson first came to Ann Ar-
bor in 1958. One might think that it
would take a lot to bring a promising
young hockey player from Regina,
Saskatchewan all the way to southern
I wasn't planning to
leave (Buffalo) until
this came up. It came
down to (Michigan) is
the place I wanted to
be.'
- Red Berenson
Michigan to go to college. But Berenson
required no recruiting at all.
"I ACTUALLY WROTE to (then-
Michigan coach) Al Renfrew," said the
former center. "I wanted to go to the
best school I could play hockey at. This
is the best school I know of that plays
hockey. That will be my philosophy
here."
Besides picking up a recruiting pitch,
Berenson got a business degree at the
University while playing his way to All-
American status twice. In 1962, he set
the Michigan record for most goals
scored in a season with 43 and cap-
tained the Wolverines to a third-place
finish in the NCAA tournament.
"He had tremendous ability and was
a superior leader," said Renfrew, who
stopped short of calling Berenson the
greatest player he'd ever coached. "His
ability to improve on things he couldn't
do was special.
"WHEN HE CAME here he couldn't
go to his-right. But then he developed I
think one of the best backhands in the
National Hockey League. That came from
hard work."
After leaving the ice at Michigan,
Berenson earned his MBA in only two
summers while embarking on an NHL
career that would continue for 16 years.
He played briefly for Montreal and
the New York Rangers before settling
in with the expansion St. Louis Blues.
Following a brief stint with the Red
Wings, Berenson returned to St. Louis
and ultimately became head coach of
the Blues in 1979. After one season at
the helm, he was given the opportunity
for the second time to coach at his alma
mater, the first coming in-'74 when
Renfrew stepped down.
"I CONSIDERED IT, but it just
wasn't feasible," said the 44-year old
father of four. "I always had a good
feeling about Michigan, but I was busy
with the NHL career."
So Berenson returned for another
season at St. Louis and led the Blues to
the best record in the team's history
and was named NHL coach-of-the-year.
But late into the next season he was
fired.
"The circumstances in St. Louis were
worse than I felt they were," said the
two-time Michigan most valuable

player. "I don't think we were as good
as our record showed (in '80-81) and we
didn't improve the next season. We had
an unhappy team training camp, they
were the same faces but different
people.
"THAT YEAR WE struggled and I
knew the owners were concerned
because Ralston-Purina (the company
that owned the Blues) was losing
money. But Al Arbour told me you're
not a coach until you've been fired."
It looked like Berenson was in line for
a second shot at being an NHL coach
when he was hired as an assistant to
Scotty Bowman at Buffalo. As soon as
Bowman decided to give up coaching
and concentrate on being general
manager, Berenson was ready to fill in.
But before that could happen, Berenson
received another call from Don
Canham andthis time he couldn't say
no.
"I wasn't planning to leave until this
came up," said Berenson, whose son
will be a freshman at the university .this
fall. "It came down to this is the place I
wanted to be. There is a better quality
of life here and I can get more out of
this job."
THE TRANSITION back to college
hockey should be easy for Berenson
because he already has the full support
of the players, fans and alumni who
have suffered through two straight nin-
th-place finishes.
"He feels like we all do about the
school," said Renfrew, who is now the
athletic ticket manager, "that's
something that we haven't had for
several years."

Bob Kalmbach
New Michigan hockey coach Red Berenson speaks at the press conference
last month announcing his appointment.

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