Michigan hockey coach Red Berenson has been away from the NHL since 1984. But on Nov. 6, the league will honor him when it presents the hockey legend with the Lester Patrick Award for his outstanding service to hockey in the United States.
Berenson, a former Michigan hockey player, said he was pleased to represent collegiate hockey in a primarily professional fraternity.
“I think it’s a tribute to college hockey to recognize someone from college hockey,” Berenson said. “I would guess that a lot of people included in that group were in the pro game. Right now, I’m in the amateur game.”
Berenson played with four different NHL teams during his career, including the Detroit Red Wings. He tallied 261 goals and 397 assists over 17 seasons.
In 1965, Berenson was a member of the Stanley Cup Champion Montreal Canadiens. The next year he returned to Michigan and received his Master’s of Business and Administration. Berenson has been an outspoken proponent of hockey players completing their college education.
His most well-known accomplishment as a player was his six-goal game against the Philadelphia Flyers as a member of the St. Louis Blues in 1968. Later that season, he graced the cover of Sports Illustrated with the caption “The Red Baron of the Blues.”
Following his retirement in 1978, Berenson joined the St. Louis coaching staff as an assistant, and midway through the 1979-80 season, he was named head coach. The following season, Berenson was honored as the NHL Coach of the Year.
Although he is Canadian, Berenson thinks the time he has spent involved in hockey in the United States led to his receiving the Patrick award.
“I’ve been in the U.S. a lot of years, and I’ve seen hockey grow in the U.S. over those years,” Berenson said.
Four other hockey notables will garner the award along with Berenson at a luncheon in Joe Louis Arena on Nov. 6. Proceeds from the award luncheon will benefit the USA Hockey Foundation.
Red Wing greats Steve Yzerman and Reed Larson will be honored along with Hockey Hall of Famer Marcel Dionne and former NHL and college coach Glen Sonmor.
Berenson said he was excited to be recognized at Joe Louis alongside so many others with Detroit ties.
“It’s great that it’s in Detroit and there’s so many Detroit personalities involved,” Berenson said.
This year’s five award winners bring the total number of individual Lester Patrick recipients to 100. Three U.S. Olympic hockey teams have also received the honor – The 1966 and 1980 men’s teams and the 1998 women’s team.
The award’s namesake, Lester Patrick, was involved in hockey for half a century as a player, coach and general manager.
Famous past winners of the Lester Patrick award include Gordie Howe, Stan Mikita, Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky and Phil Esposito.
Berenson will begin his 23 season as Michigan’s head coach when the Wolverines face off against Alabama-Huntsville Oct. 13.