Red Berenson: A Life in Hockey

From Regina to Ann Arbor, from Montreal to St. Louis, across the continent and around the globe, retiring University of Michigan ice hockey coach Gordon "Red" Berenson has enjoyed a remarkable life playing and coaching the sport he loves.

A native of Regina, Saskatchewan, Berenson won a world championship in 1959 representing Canada, was a two-time All-American as a college player at Michigan, scored six goals in one game during a 17-year career in the National Hockey League, and was the NHL's Coach of the Year before returning to his alma mater to make his mark on the college game as a coach.

During his 33-year run behind the Michigan bench, Berenson created a powerhouse program that annually competed for championships on the conference and national levels. He guided the Wolverines to a pair of NCAA national championships, in 1996 and 1998, during an unprecedented streak of 22 consecutive appearances in the national tournament.

While accumulating countless awards, accolades and trophies during his career, Berenson continued to emphasize to his players the commitment to academics he displayed in his own education. Meanwhile, he also prepared Wolverines to compete at the highest level, mentoring 73 players who went on to play in the NHL, including 22 on NHL rosters in 2016-17.

College All-American

• One of the top players in Wolverine ice hockey history, earning All-America and Michigan Most Valuable Player honors in both his junior and senior seasons (1961, '62).

• Three-year U-M varsity letterwinner under head coach Al Renfrew.

• Helped the Wolverines to a third-place NCAA finish in 1962.

• As a senior, led the WCHA in conference-only scoring with 41 points (24 goals, 17 assists) in 18 games and was named the league's MVP.

• Scored 70 points (43 goals and 27 assists) in just 28 games in 1961-62. His 43 goals and nine hat tricks in his last season still stand as Michigan records.

• 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.

U-M Most Goals in a Season

1. Red Berenson (1961-62), 43
1. Dave Debol (1976-77), 43
3. Denny Felsner (1991-92), 42

An NHL Player and Coach

• Played in the NHL for 17 seasons as a member of the Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues.

• Accumulated 261 goals and 397 assists in 987 games -- the most career points by a Michigan alumnus in the NHL -- and scored at least 20 goals in seven NHL seasons.

• Following his final Michigan contest in the 1962 NCAA consolation game win vs. St. Lawrence, was driven from Utica, New York, to Boston where he played for the Montreal Canadiens at the Boston Garden the next night (March 18, 1962).

• Was a member of Montreal Canadiens teams that won the Stanley Cup in 1965 and 1966.

• Scored six goals on Nov. 7, 1968, while playing for the St. Louis Blues in a game against the Philadelphia Flyers.

• Won the Jack Adams Award as NHL Coach of the Year in 1980-81 after leading the Blues to a 45-18-17 record.

Most NHL Goals by U-M Player (as of 4/10/2017)

1. Mike Cammalleri (2002-present), 287
2. Mike Knuble (1996-2013), 278
3. Red Berenson (1961-78), 261
4. Max Pacioretty (2008-present), 209
5. Brendan Morrison (1997-12), 200

College Coaching Career

One of the most successful coaches in college athletics history, Berenson compiled an 848-426-92 (.654) career record in 33 seasons and 1,366 games behind the Michigan bench.

• Took over a struggling Michigan program in 1984 and, after three sub-.500 seasons, guided the Wolverines to 25 consecutive winning campaigns, including 11 seasons with 30 or more victories.

• Won nearly three-fourths of games played at home, going 449-145-38 (.741) while turning Yost Ice Arena into one of the best atmospheres in college hockey and toughest places for opponents to play.

Berenson's Milestone Victories

No. 1 -- 6-4 vs. Miami (Ohio), Oct. 12, 1984
No. 100 -- 7-2 vs. Western Michigan, Feb. 2, 1990
No. 200 -- 13-1 vs. Ohio State, March 6, 1993
No. 300 -- 3-2 (OT) vs. Colorado College, March 30, 1996
No. 400 -- 3-2 vs. Yale, Oct. 30, 1999
No. 500 -- 5-4 vs. Michigan State, March 1, 2003
No. 600 -- 5-2 vs. Northern Michigan, Jan. 12, 2007
No. 700 -- 4-1 vs. Bowling Green, Oct. 8, 2010
No. 800 -- 7-5 vs. Minnesota, Jan. 10, 2015
No. 848 -- 4-0 vs. Penn State, March 11, 2017

Two National Championships

Atop Berenson's list of accomplishments as Michigan's coach are a pair of NCAA championships, in 1996 and 1998. The two national titles represent the eighth and ninth in program history, an NCAA record.

1996 NCAA Championship Team
In 1996, Brendan Morrison scored 3:35 into overtime to give the Wolverines a 3-2 win over Colorado College at Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati, marking Michigan's first national championship since 1964.

1998 NCAA Championship Team
Two years later, in 1998, U-M again claimed the NCAA title with an overtime victory, as Josh Langfeld's tally nearly 18 minutes into the extra period produced a 3-2 win over Boston College at the FleetCenter in Boston.

Fourth on All-Time Wins List

Berenson joined an elite fraternity on Jan. 10, 2015, picking up his 800th career victory as Michigan downed Minnesota, 7-5, at Yost Ice Arena. He is one of four NCAA Division I ice hockey coaches who have reached the 800-win plateau.

• Averaged 25.7 wins per season during his 33-year career.

• Joins Jack Parker of Boston University as the only 800-win coaches to accumulate all of their victories at one school.

NCAA Ice Hockey All-Time Coaching Wins (Through 2016-17 Season)

1. Jerry York (1972-present), 1,033
     » Clarkson, Bowling Green, Boston College
2. Ron Mason (1966-2002), 924
     » Lake Superior State, Bowling Green, Michigan State
3. Jack Parker (1973-2012), 897
     » Boston University
4. Red Berenson (1984-2017), 848
     » Michigan
5. Rick Comley (1973-2011), 783
     » Lake Superior State, Northern Michigan, Michigan State

Awards and Honors

Berenson holds the distinction of being the only person to be named Coach of the Year in both the NHL and NCAA. He earned the 1980-81 Jack Adams Award (NHL Coach of the Year, first awarded in 1973-74) after leading the St. Louis Blues to a 45-18-17 mark, the second-best record in the league. Berenson received the 2007-08 Spencer Penrose Award (NCAA Division I National Coach of the Year, first awarded in 1950-51) after guiding the Wolverines to a 33-6-4 record, CCHA regular-season and tournament titles, and a spot in the Frozen Four.

• 2006 Lester Patrick Award (outstanding service to hockey in the U.S.)

• 2016 Big Ten Coach of the Year

• CCHA Coach of the Year: 1994, 2008

• Member of University of Michigan Athletic Hall of Honor, the Dekers Club Hall of Fame, the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame, the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame, and the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame

• Inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame along with the entire 1972 Team Canada roster in the fall of 2005.

Additional Highlights

Berenson mentored two student-athletes who won college hockey's top individual prize, the Hobey Baker Award, presented annually to the outstanding college hockey player in the U.S. Brendan Morrison tallied 31 goals and a school-record 57 assists to lead the nation in scoring en route to earning the 1997 award as a senior, while 2008 Hobey Baker recipient Kevin Porter recorded 33 goals and 30 assists in his senior season to finish second in the country in scoring.

• Coached two CoSIDA Academic All-Americans: Zach Hyman (first team, 2015) and Jeff Jillson (second team, 2001)

• Helped develop 73 individuals who went on to play in the National Hockey League, including 22 who appeared in the NHL game during the 2016-17 season.

NCAA Frozen Fours (11)

1992, '93, '95, '96, '97, '98, 2001, '02, '03, '08, '11

Big Ten Tournament Championship


Central Collegiate Hockey Association Championships (11)

1992, '94, '95, '96, '97, 2000, '02, '04, '05, '08, '11

CCHA Tournament Championships (9)

1994, '96, '97, '99, 2002, '03, '05, '08, '10

Berenson photo