Last week, Michigan Athletic Director Warde Manuel sat down for an end-of-the-year meeting with hockey coach Red Berenson. But it wasn’t like his typical, end-of-the-year meeting with any head coach.
Amid season-long speculation about whether Berenson, 76, would return for a 33rd year coaching the Wolverines, Manuel wanted to make plans for next year with Berenson himself.
First, Manuel told Berenson what he has said before, first on Jan. 29, when he was introduced as athletic director.
“My feeling is I’d like you to come back,” he told Berenson. “I love where the team is now. I love what you’ve done, watched the performance of Michigan hockey since I left. I believe strongly in Red and all the things he has brought to Michigan and Michigan hockey and my belief in him.”
Then, Manuel asked Berenson where he was. Berenson’s mindset has long been that he will stay as long as he feels he can still help the program improve, and step down when he feels he can’t anymore. In their meeting, Berenson told Manuel he felt good and wanted to come back.
Manuel was glad to hear it.
Berenson’s contract expired after this past season, and Manuel said Friday that the two sides are working to develop a new deal.
“It’s not going to have an end date,” Manuel said. “It’s not going to be one of these contracts that’s a year contract or a five-year contract. It’s going to be an ongoing contract with Michigan hockey. As Red said — and I agree — we’ll analyze it on a year-to-year basis and have a great conversation with him about where we are.”
That conversation will transpire again in a year, but until then, Berenson still has at least 12 more months of leading his team, which reached the regional final of the NCAA Tournament this year.
Next year, Berenson will get another chance to improve that finish.
“The one thing I’ve said about Red that has always been true — this is not about Red Berenson,” Manuel said. “This is not about his legacy. He wants what’s in the best interest of the hockey program. From a student-athlete to now a coach, he cares deeply about Michigan and Michigan hockey. He’s always going to put that first and foremost.
“His legacy is set. Who he is is set. So he doesn’t have that as the focus. What he has as the focus is if he can contribute and continue to keep Michigan hockey at that elite level, and as long as he feels that he can do that, he wants to coach the team.”