After leading the Wolverines as one of the most successful coaches in college hockey history Gordon “Red” Berenson was about to enbark on his new challenge. For the second time in his life, Baerenson had his bags packed and was ready to head for Montreal.
It had been the dream job for Berenson, who played for Montreal in his first season in the NHL, to coach for the historic franchise ever since he had been fired from the Buffalo Sabers.
But the vacancy that became available in Montreal was not for the Canadiens’ head coaching position but rather a spot at the Montreal Canadian Shady Acre Home for the Retired.
“He’s had a great run here and physically he’s in excellent shape,” associate head coach Mel Pearson said. “But mentally, we’ve noticed he’s been slipping lately. We really feel that this is the right direction to go in for the program and the best decision for Red.”
Berenson’s struggles had been escalating over the past few seasons, culminating with a tirade in which he continually shouted at sophomore forward Milan Gagic, “Hey Morrison, wake up and play like you did in ’98 when you won the Hobey Baker because if you did we might actually have a chance of making it past the Frozen Four.”
While the comments would not be questioned if Berenson had just been referring to Gajic’s less than stellar play, Bearenson had been referring to Michigan’s only Hobey Baker winner and his protege, Berndan Morrison. The only thing that Morrison and Gajic have in common is that they wear the No. 9 in the maize and blue.
Berenson’s outbursts reached their nadir in 2002 when he confused then Michigan senior goalkeeper Josh Blackburn with Michigan State phenom Ryan Miller.
“You’re supposed to be the best god damn college goalkeeper in America,” Berenson shouted. If you’re acclaimed as a No. 1 draft pick, then act like it for God’s sake.”
It was at that point that Pearson knew that Berenson was ready to go. That and all the times that he confused Jewish Michigan Daily writers for Indian columnists or mellow Irishmen for fierce Italians.
As soon as Pearson told him, Berenson pulled out that bag he packed in 1962 when he originally left for Montreal and the fishing pole. Berenson then walked into the lockerroom and told all the players that he would see them al there soon.
Speechless, Jonny “Boy” Shouneyia could only offer these kind words for his coach.
“I just need to try and bury it more,” Shouynia said while pulling out of the Yost Ice Arena parking lot in the nicest Michigan athletic vehicle not driven by a football player – a Porsche Boxter – on the way to his hairstyalist. “If I can bury it I will score more and that will help me and everyone that I am playing with.”
As Berenson pulled into Shady Acres, the inmates erupted in euphoria for their newest guest. Confused by the applause over his arrival, Berenson entered discreetly into his office to start working on a new offense for the Canadians.
When the head surgeon finally arrived and told Berenson that his coaching days were through, the long time coach was speechless and didn’t know how to respond. After a few telling moments, the veteran coach accepted his fate and gave his final good-bye.