Berenson Leaves Lasting Impact on Former Players in NHL
Mike Cammalleri

April 14, 2017

By Brandon Koretz

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- After Red Berenson retired Monday (April 10), many of his former players expressed their gratitude for the University of Michigan's longtime ice hockey coach. In his 33 seasons coaching the Wolverines, 73 of Berenson's players went on to the National Hockey League, the most in NCAA Division I over that time. Twenty-two former Wolverines appeared in the NHL during the 2016-17 season, and nine are competing in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

One of those NHL players is Mike Cammalleri, who played three seasons for Michigan from 1999 to 2002.

"Red was the ultimate enabler when it came to adolescent players' ability to develop skill in an enthusiastic way," said Cammalleri, currently a left winger on the New Jersey Devils. "He had a fantastic presence to him as a coach. It was a real pleasure to have the opportunity to play for him and have him as a confidant at this point in my life."

Cammalleri was drafted in the second round of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft with the 49th overall pick and has since played in the NHL for more than a decade. He holds the record for most NHL goals scored (287) by a former Wolverine, edging out Mike Knuble (278) and Berenson (261).

"He had a motto when I came to Michigan that he was going to treat us like pros but he expected us to act and play like pros," Cammalleri said.

Another Michigan standout that went on to play professionally in the NHL is Max Pacioretty, who has spent his nine professional seasons with the Montreal Canadiens.

"He's probably the biggest influence on my career," said Pacioretty, who was voted Montreal's captain at the start of the 2015-16 season. "From day one, he treated me like a son almost. He took me under his wing. When I was down on myself he showed confidence and faith in me and we were able to pull through and have a great season. I definitely wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for him."

Pacioretty's teammate on the Canadiens, goalie Al Montoya, also played under Berenson at Michigan.

"Not just what he did for me on the ice, but how he shaped me as a man into the person that I have become today," Montoya said. "I can't say enough great things about him."

Berenson had a direct impact on the landscape of the NHL as seven of his former players combined for nine Stanley Cup championships.

"I think everyone that's ever played for him knows that it was an honor every single time to step on the ice for that guy," said Montoya.

•   •   •

Comments on Red Berenson from some of Michigan's NHL players:

Jon Merrill

U-M letterwinner (2011-13); Fourth season in NHL (New Jersey Devils)

"Red was always great to me and took care of me -- he is a legend. I can't say enough good things about him. Red taught me what it takes to be a good professional and what it takes to be your best on the ice and away from the rink. I became a better man from playing for him."

Mike Cammalleri

U-M letterwinner (2000-02); 14th season in NHL (current team: New Jersey Devils)

"Red was the ultimate enabler when it came to adolescent players' ability to develop skill in an enthusiastic way. He had a fantastic presence to him as a coach. It was a real pleasure to have the opportunity to play for him and have him as a confidant at this point in my life. He had a motto when I came to Michigan that he was going to treat us like pros but he expected us to act and play like pros."

Dylan Larkin

U-M letterwinner (2015); Second season in NHL (Detroit Red Wings)

"The first thing that comes to mind when playing for Michigan is playing for Red Berenson. Getting to learn how he teaches the game, it was a real privilege to play him. It was an unbelievable experience playing for Red. He has such a great hockey mind, and the way he thinks the game is pretty simple and is definitely a little old school, but he sure does carry on the Michigan hockey tradition pretty well."

JT Compher

U-M letterwinner (2014-16); First season in NHL (Colorado Avalanche)

"Red was always great to me, and it was privilege playing for him. We were able to accomplish a lot of things, especially winning the first Big Ten (Tournament) championship for Michigan."

Montoya quote graphic

David Harlock

U-M letterwinner (1990-93); 212 NHL games for four teams (1994-2002)

"He was great. I think that I learned a lot from him as a hockey player. I learned a lot from him as a student, and I learned a lot from him as a life mentor. I think that's, in my opinion, what sets him apart from a lot of other coaches. He truly lived that experience at Michigan and it's important for him that the kids that come through his program have similar types of experiences -- that they're engaged students, that they're engaged athletes, and then they are engaged in the community and thinking about what comes after hockey. He does a great job of coaching in all three facets. And that's something that really hasn't changed from his very first recruiting class to the kids today.

"He really touts education. He's created a great University of Michigan hockey family. It always comes back to the bond that he's created for Michigan hockey players in general. It doesn't matter that I graduated in the '90s because I can pick up the phone and call somebody that graduated in the '60s or '70s and be able to connect with them pretty quickly."

Shawn Hunwick

U-M letterwinner (2008-12); Appeared in one game for Columbus Blue Jackets (2012)

"I had two experiences with Coach Berenson. I was a walk-on goalie who he gave a spot to when I don't know if I necessarily deserved one. He told me to be a good teammate, be a good student, and to work hard. You're going to be the third goalie. Ultimately I was able to find my way into the net and start for two and a half years. My thoughts on Coach Berenson are that my relationship was the same in both experiences -- being the third-string goalie and being the starting goalie. He treated us all the same way, which is a testament to who he is. He's going to give his all to everyone on the roster. He wants everyone to be a good student. He talks a lot about the guys who don't go on to the NHL and he is just as proud of those guys as those who go to the NHL. We felt that on campus; we felt that as a part of our team. That's one of the reasons that guys love playing for Red. His support and the lessons that he taught us during college about being good men and good people sticks with you for a lifetime. There are a lot of mentors in each person's life, and for me he was a huge one."

Max Pacioretty

U-M letterwinner (2008); Ninth season in NHL (Montreal Canadiens)

"He's probably the biggest influence on my career. From day one, he treated me like a son almost. He took me under his wing. When I was down on myself, he showed confidence and faith in me and we were able to pull through and have a great season. I definitely wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for him."

Al Montoya

U-M letterwinner (2003-05); Eighth season in NHL (current team: Montreal Canadiens)

"Red's still one of my favorite coaches that I have ever played for. Not just what he did for me on the ice, but how he shaped me as a man into the person that I have become today. I can't say enough great things about him. I think everyone that's ever played for him knows that it was an honor every single time to step on the ice for that guy."

Wolverines in the Pros
Kornacki: How Berenson Built So Much More Than a Hockey Team
Red Berenson: A Life in Hockey
Berenson Retiring after 33 Seasons Behind the Michigan Bench


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