Nestled in an otherwise bare nook in a northwest corridor of Yost Ice Arena sits a vending machine. The sound of sticks slapping pucks and pucks nailing boards drowns out the machine’s quiet whirring.
But this machine doesn’t sell chips or cookies. Instead, its products are pieces of card stock with statistics on the back so small you have to squint to read them — trading cards.
Its big-ticket item sits front and center and also carries a heavier price tag than all of the other cards. And why shouldn’t it? Ten dollars will get you a Red Berenson card.
Perched in the upper rows of the machine, Berenson is depicted in his 1970s St. Louis Blues sweater, skating behind the goal. The confidence on his face doesn’t waver.
But does Berenson have that same confidence in his skaters in the midst of the program’s longest slump since 2009?
The answer is a resounding yes.
That’s hardly to say, though, that the effort has always been there.
“I think we can play harder and better,” Berenson said.
It’s not just confidence that will eventually bust this Wolverine slump. Berenson looks for resiliency. His teams are known for it, actually, and last year was no exception. Berenson remembers a late-season sweep at the hands of Miami (Ohio) as the best example of the squad’s ability to bounce back, en route to an appearance in the National Championship game.
And with the confidence he demonstrated while centering the Blues to three consecutive Stanley Cup Finals appearances, Berenson anticipates that resiliency.
“Last year’s team at this point wasn’t a lot better than this year’s team,” he said. “They bounced back … we have to be able to bounce back, too. I think this team has resiliency.”
Berenson called last weekend’s sweep at the hands of Ohio State a “bad weekend.” That’s probably putting the Wolverines’ two losses to the Buckeyes this weekend lightly. After all, allowing six goals in a game — like it did Saturday — serves as a reminder of how lax Michigan defense has been recently.
And those “bad weekends” are a luxury that Berenson won’t afford his teams.
He doesn’t expect perfection, but he knows as well as anyone that hockey is a sport of streaks and how teams respond to them.
“You’re not going to win all your games,” Berenson said. “I’ve always said you shouldn’t lose two in a row.”
This weekend, No. 11 Michigan will try to avoid dropping a third straight game. Senior captain Luke Glendening readily admits that Berenson’s signature confidence may be contagious — albeit a “quiet” confidence. And the resiliency that his coach expects — or demands — isn’t far behind.
“I think we’ll battle back,” Glendening said. “I think we’ll be OK.”