Red Berenson and the Athletic Department announced yesterday that the longtime Michigan hockey coach would extend his contract through the 2009-2010 season.
Berenson, who played for Michigan from 1960 to 1962 and has coached the Wolverines since 1984, has a record of 670-308-68 and is the seventh all-time winningest coach in NCAA hockey. Under Berenson, Michigan has made the NCAA Tournament for 18 consecutive season, reached 10 Frozen Fours and won the national championship in 1996 and 1998. Berenson’s contract was scheduled to expire after this season.
Rumors have circulated over the years, raising questions about whether Berenson, 69, planned to retire. But the coach said he is ready to remain behind the bench.
“I’m feeling good and I should be good to go next year,” said Berenson after practice Tuesday.
Berenson said Tuesday he and the Athletic Department discussed signing a longer contract, but he decided to sign on a rolling, one-year basis. Future decisions, Berenson said, will be based on his health and ability to keep Michigan a top hockey program.
“We talked about it. The department has been really supportive and flexible,” Berenson said. “From my standpoint, I didn’t want to guarantee anything. I’m the kind of person that if I say I’m going to do it, I try and live up to it. But I don’t want to live up to something that might not be working and might not be fair to me or to the team or program. If we go at a year at a time, I’m good with that.”
Players were excited at the prospect of their coach returning for a 26th season.
“That’s great news, for (the sophomore) class and the juniors. That makes me pretty happy,” said sophomore Aaron Palushaj, who learned of the extension while speaking to reporters. “It’s great to know that. He probably could have waited until after the season was done but he did it now, so I think it is going to give us a little bit of momentum heading into the playoffs as well.”
Michigan is currently the second seed in the CCHA and after a first-round bye, will play its quarterfinal matchup in Yost Ice Arena against a winner of this weekend’s first-round matchups.
Berenson said, the Athletic Department has not figured out who will take over for him when he decides to retire.
Both assistant coaches Mel Pearson and Billy Powers were noted by Berenson to be eventual candidates for the job.
“We’ve had so many ADs really over the years that (finding a replacement) hasn’t been a priority for them,” Berenson said. “But we’re getting closer to a time when it’s best for the team and best for me not to be around every day.”