Red Berenson on Mike Babcock: 'He's a student of the game and understands academics and sports and life after hockey.' (David Guralnick / Detroit News)
Ann Arbor -- Mike Babcock, Michigan head coach?
Michigan coach Red Berenson was asked last weekend if he thought Babcock could one day be a head coach of a college team -- not necessarily for the Wolverines.
In recent years, Berenson has been invited by Babcock to join the Red Wings in camp in Traverse City. Berenson has always had high praise for the Red Wings' coach.
“He always mentions that -- (coaching college hockey) at some point -- when we talk,” Berenson said. “When he's done (in the NHL), he could see himself doing that. He's a student of the game and understands academics and sports and life after hockey."
Babcock, 50, has already accomplished a lot in the NHL, guiding the Ducks to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2003, then the Red Wings to the Finals in 2008 and 2009, defeating the Penguins for the championship in '08 before falling to them the next year. He has won an Olympic gold medal as head coach of Canada in 2010 and is again its head coach for next month's Olympics in Russia.
Would Babcock be ready to leave the NHL to replace Berenson in the next few years? Berenson's contract runs through the 2015-16 season.
Berenson knows that leading a college hockey program is a major full-time job.
"I've been on a Stanley Cup team and I've been lucky enough to be in a lot of good situations, but I never felt like I had to come here to out-do that," said Berenson, who took over the Michigan program at age 44 after earning the Jack Adams Trophy for NHL coach of the year with the Blues in 1981.
"This is a career,” Berenson said. “I want to win championships, but I want to do the right thing every day and every year. I want to feel good about what I'm doing and I enjoy coming to the rink.”
Mike Babcock Jr. will be playing college hockey next year at Merrimack. He led Detroit Catholic Central to the state championship game last year and is playing this season for Fargo of the USHL.