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Red Berenson will return as Michigan hockey coach

Angelique S. Chengelis and Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Red Berenson

Long-time Michigan hockey coach Red Berenson announced Sunday at the team banquet he will return for his 33rd season as the Wolverines’ head coach.

“I’m here today to say I had a meeting with Warde Manuel and this will not be my last hockey banquet,” Berenson, 76, told the crowd.

New Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel told reporters Friday he had met with Berenson and said he hoped Berenson, who had been considering retirement, would stay.

“I want him to stay if he wants to stay,” Manuel said last Friday. “I was proud of the team and what they had done this year. We’ve had discussions and I’ve shared my thoughts and he shared his thoughts. Hopefully here in the future, I’m not going to put a time limit on it, a decision will be announced about what he wants to do.”

Manuel was a hockey administrator when he previously worked in Michigan’s athletic department.

“I learned a lot from Red,” he said.

While Berenson announced his decision on Sunday, what is not known is the future of his top offensive players – Kyle Connor, JT Compher and Tyler Motte.

Connor, one of three finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, Compher and Motte all have been drafted by NHL teams and could leave Michigan before their college eligibility expires.

Connor, a freshman who led the nation in scoring with 71 points, was drafted by the Jets in the first round in 2015.

Compher, a junior, had 61 points this season and was drafted by the Sabres in the second round in 2013.

Motte, also a junior, had 55 points. He was selected by the Blackhawks in the fourth round in 2013.

Berenson led the Wolverines to a 25-8-5 record and the Big Ten tournament championship this season.

“He’s in great shape, he’s a go-getter as much as he was back in the day,” Manuel said. “He think he’s slowing down but nobody else does. I think Red Is doing a tremendous job.

“With him as the head coach, the hockey program is in great hands.”

At the end of this season, Berenson said he didn’t know if he would be back. The Wolverines lost to North Dakota in the NCAA tournament Midwest Regional final. A win there would have put them in the Frozen Four.

“I was proud of our team for how far we came this year, but the challenge is let’s get Michigan back to where it belongs and let’s be able to (win that regional final),” Berenson told The Detroit News. “I think it (Michigan) was back, but until you string years together, you can’t say that.”

Berenson will have to return on a new contract, as his previous contract ended with the 2015-16 season.

"I'm excited about the direction of the program and the challenge of working with our student-athletes to improve on a daily basis and achieve our goal of winning championships," Berenson said Sunday upon announcing his return. "This season has been inspiring for our team, our staff and the fans. Our success has been the motivation to return to help the program take another step forward. I feel fortunate to be at Michigan and appreciate the support from our new athletic director."

In his 32 seasons at Michigan, Berenson has led the Wolverines to the NCAA tournament 23 times.

Michigan is 835-407-89 (.661) under Berenson, winning national championships in 1996 and 1998.