Every Love Story is a Ghost Story: Mel Pearson’s Journey to Yost and Back

Every Love Story is a Ghost Story: Mel Pearson’s Journey to Yost and Back

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on October 10th, 2017 at 6:00 PM

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[courtesy U-M Athletics]

It’s a cooler than usual Monday in September outside Yost Ice Arena, nature’s heavy-handed hint that hockey season is just weeks away. Inside, the new head coach’s office looks decidedly less new than it did a few weeks ago. The smell of leather fills the air—new chairs—albeit less so than in July. The built-in book cases have filled up with years of accolades and other snapshots from a life in hockey.

Framed photos line the upper shelves, but Mel Pearson doesn’t reach for those. Asked how he first got involved in hockey, he rises from his chair and plucks a photo from the top left corner of the furthest shelf to the left. It’s propped up in front of another picture, the lone unframed photo in the bunch. Pearson lays it down on his desk next to the neatly organized stacks of paper, presumably drills and practice plans and  scouting reports that bear the emblems of teams from all over; one of the stacks is topped with a sheet that has the Pittsburgh Penguins’ logo in the top corner. “You’re just sort of born into it,” Pearson says, pointing to the back row of the photo. “This is Coach Berenson—this is an All-Star team up in Saskatchewan—and that’s my dad, so they actually had some history. It’s awesome. So they played together.”

It feels like a foundational event, a peek behind the curtain, the revelation of the moment that destiny staked its claim on a kid from Flin Flon, Manitoba. In reality, Pearson’s point is that the hockey world can be an awfully small place. George “Mel” Pearson’s son was about to criss-cross North America, a party to his father’s dream, soon to discover that sentiment was more true than he ever could have guessed.

[After THE JUMP: ties, timing, and the moment it all came together]

The Oral History of Yost, Part 4: The Way the West Was Won

The Oral History of Yost, Part 4: The Way the West Was Won

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on August 24th, 2017 at 12:00 PM

Previously: Part One, Part Two, Part Three

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[West Regional vs NoDak, 1998/Kalmbach via Bentley Historical Library]

The story is almost too perfect. You expect the details of a hockey story to flow from odd angles, to be all jagged edges and shoulders and elbows and yet this story is writerly and neat and almost formulaic. It follows the kind of structure script writers teach in their intro film classes: the protagonist runs through the gauntlet and passes a test that changes them, then uses their newly girded spirit to pass the ultimate test and reap a reward barely fathomable at the start of the journey. From humble beginnings, etc.

The necessity of icing an unusually high number of freshmen dampened expectations at the start of Michigan’s 1997-98 season, but there were enough upperclassmen remaining—Marty Turco, Bill Muckalt, Matt Herr, and Bobby Hayes, to name a few—to keep them from falling off precipitously. Yes, skating four freshmen defensemen was different, but close games can be won with a Hobey Baker finalist, Muckalt, leading the offense and one of the best goaltenders in the country, Turco, as the last line of defense.

And close games—one-goal games, to be precise—soon became Michigan’s calling card. Entering the NCAA Tournament, sixteen of their 42 contests had been one-goal games, including two of the games that got them to the GLI final and two of the games that got them to the CCHA Tournament final. The GLI and CCHA finals against Michigan State and Ohio State, respectively, left their mark. Both were losses and both snapped long streaks for the Wolverines, who had won two straight CCHA tournaments and nine straight Great Lakes Invitationals.

Those losses, however, ended up helping Michigan in their NCAA Tournament seeding. Not only were they placed at the West Regional, which happened to be held at Yost this season, but they were seeded third. This put them on the opposite side of the bracket from Michigan State, the one-seed and no. 1 overall team in the nation, and Ohio State, the no. 6 team in the country yet somehow the four-seed. Two teams they’d had a problem with all year, their two in-conference archrivals, were on a collision course.

That didn’t mean that Michigan’s road to the Frozen Four would be easy, though. North Dakota, the defending national champion and no. 2 team in the USCHO poll, was waiting in the wings. Michigan would have to fight the temptation to look ahead to that game and first dispatch six-seed Princeton, which made the Tournament by winning the ECAC and was listed last in USCHO poll’s “others receiving votes” section.

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Mel Pearson, assistant coach: Weird game. It just seemed like we were either looking ahead or...there was something going on in that game and we just didn’t have it and there was nothing going right for us. I think part of that was Princeton but I don’t think we respected them enough as a team. They worked hard and they didn’t give us anything and I think we just thought we were going to come in and throw down our sticks and they were going to fade away and we’d blow them out and go into the regional final but it didn’t work out that way.

Innocent play from the sidewall down near the zamboni. I can’t even remember who threw it at the net but somehow it hit a couple guys in front and went right between the goalie’s legs. We didn’t even have a player in front of the net. I think it went off of one of their players and went in the net. Once that goal went in it just seemed like, Okay, here we go. The crowd got into it a little bit. Princeton had played an absolute great road game. They didn’t let the crowd into it for the most part but once that goal went in we started to play better.

The thing I remember is it was just a weird goal, literally. One of our guys backhanded it towards the net, it hits one of their guys, a defenseman, goes off a skate between the goalie’s net and it’s in. It’s like, there’s nobody there. It’s one of the weirdest goals I’ve ever seen. Did we have anybody in front? I don’t think there was. It’s strange. It’s just like an act of the hockey gods.

[After THE JUMP: The hockey gods have a field day]

The Oral History of Yost in the 1990s, Part 3: One Goal Lead

The Oral History of Yost in the 1990s, Part 3: One Goal Lead

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on August 16th, 2017 at 2:30 PM

Previously: Part One, Part Two

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[Yost in the late ‘90s/Kalmbach via Bentley Historical Library]

Michigan’s heralded 1993 and 1994 recruiting classes began paying dividends immediately. The 1993-94 Wolverines had three winning streaks of seven games or longer in just a 41-game season, the longest of which reached 11 games. The 1994-95 team took something of a step back—their longest winning streak was only nine games—while still winning 30 games and finishing first in the CCHA.

The most dominant streak of the decade dovetailed with the vaunted recruits becoming upperclassmen. The nature of collegiate hockey scheduling left its mark on previous winning streaks; many took place across multiple road series with neutral-site games sprinkled in. In 1995-96, however, Michigan’s offense hit its stride just as the Wolverines returned home for a six-game homestand at the beginning of January. Their eight-game winning streak started with a GLI title that they took by a combined score of 9-2. They put up even gaudier numbers in front of their own crowd, averaging 9.6 goals per game over six home contests.

The season ended with Michigan’s first national championship in 32 years; before they got there, goalies were pulled, the wooden bleachers creaked and swayed, the crowd beyond the students got involved, and for opponents, the ghosts of Yost were growing louder.

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Brendan Morrison, forward (1993-97): That was an incredible stretch. I think we averaged that month or six weeks or whatever it was, we averaged something ridiculous like 8.7 goals a game or something like that. [Ed. A—They averaged 7.6 goals per game over the ten games from the GLI at the end of December through the end of January and the aforementioned 9.6 goals per game counting just the six-game January homestand.] Just absurd. I know every single home game we played, the other team’s goalie was pulled at some point. I don’t think it was a very fun place for other teams to come in and play. They knew they were walking into kind of the lion’s den there; we were rolling and scoring a bunch of goals. It was intimidating. I remember other programs coming out and verbalizing that it was a tough place to play. It was difficult. It’s almost like with our fans and playing in that arena, it was like you were up 1-0 or 2-0 before the game even started.

Marty Turco, goaltender (1994-98): For me, having us rolling teams, you look at the scores and you’re like rolling teams, yeah, 8-3, 7-2, 10-4. You’re like, Alright. Everybody else was happy except for Red because Red was like, “No one cares because we won and we dominated but how about those two you let in there?” I might not have been needed as much to have the game on the line early and mid-year, but he wanted to make sure I was the guy he thought I was at the end of the year. So it wasn’t all hunky-dory during that year [1995-96] for me in particular but it was huge in terms of growth.

Tim Carmody, student season ticket holder: It was exciting. It was definitely very relevant. People would go all the time. People would show up a little bit later for parties on hockey nights.

[After THE JUMP: the crowd’s creativity, the environment’s advantage, and the quirks of an old barn]

Unverified Voracity Is Rando Slander Turtleneck Doof

Unverified Voracity Is Rando Slander Turtleneck Doof

Submitted by Brian on April 25th, 2017 at 12:59 PM

When in Rome, kayak as the Romans did. Cesar Ruiz's displacement is an asset on the football field. In a kayak not so much.

This trip is probably the most Summer Of Harbaugh thing that's happened yet. Except for the shirtless touch football game at a camp he participated in. That's permanently #1.

I could use more Gus in my life. ESPN's college football announcing crew was decimated this year so I'm much more into this than I would have been previously:

...this season kicks off Fox Sports' six-year, $1.44 billion deal with the Big Ten Conference. Under the terms of the new pact, not only has Fox wrested the deed to the annual Ohio State-Michigan game from co-rights holder ESPN/ABC, but it will also broadcast the Big Ten football championship game in December. (And no, the change of broadcast venues doesn't suggest that the Buckeyes-Wolverines grudge match is going to move under the lights for a primetime airing any time soon -- tradition still demands a noon game.)

Gus Johnson and Joel Klatt might be the best extant CFB announce team and I'm totally down with those guys calling M-OSU. Hopefully FOX tones down the robots and goes with a more collegiate feel for their Big Ten games.

I am far less enthused about this, however:

“It’s still a concern,” Manuel said. “The only difference is, the Big Ten and television can assign us to a primetime game and it’s not our option. In November, we have the option if we choose to do so. I don’t anticipate that choice being made.” ...

“It comes out in terms of we agreed to it several years ago as a part of negotiating the new Big Ten television contract that we would allow up to two games at night,” Manuel said. “Last year for this (2016) football season, we had the option. Next year and moving forward the Big Ten can assign us and television in the Big Ten. In the month of September and October.” ...

“Jim (Harbaugh) and I have been in lockstep, saying our preference is in the afternoon and not in the evening,” Manuel said. “In this particular case, we have granted the ability for the Big Ten to assign two home games in the evening. That’s where it will go.”

I don't know if that's yet another Dave Brandon ace negotiation or an unfortunate side-effect of being part of the Big Ten during a period when it's being run by someone who cares about nothing other than stacking dollars. It kind of sounds like the former since Manuel says "we have granted the ability" to the Big Ten. Which is another going-away president from the worst AD in history. Also in "Dave Brandon's icy hand reaches out from the grave": he scheduled Air Force again. Never schedule Air Force.

Cord cutting leads to other forms of cutting. ESPN is about to have an on-air bloodletting:

ESPN will part ways with more than 40 people, all of them “talent,” a label that ESPN applies to radio hosts and writers (almost all of whom regularly do video or audio), not just traditional TV personalities. ESPN says it has 1,000 people in the category. Still, you can expect most of the people cut to be faces you’ve seen on TV. In some cases, ESPN may buy people out of existing long-term contracts—as Sports Illustrated points out, that is unusual.

Most of these folks are probably going to be peripheral folks with few names you'd be familiar with, but the story speculates about one potential exit that would be frown-inducing:

The New York Daily News has some speculation, including SportsCenter anchor John Buccigross, whose contract expires on July 1.

Nooooooooooo. Buccigross is probably the network's foremost college hockey proponent and things would not be the same without him. Here's hoping his skillset keeps him on the four-letter.

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who are you going to believe, your own lying eyes or this dipshit?

This week in bullshit. Danny Kanell brings his turtleneck to a fact party:

Kanell is way out of line here. Consider the environment he's living in at the time of the FSU game: various players have outright skipped bowl games and gotten praise for it in the media; neither Leonard Fournette nor Christian McCaffrey has seen his draft stock altered one iota by that decision. Even if Peppers wasn't going to play by his choice he could have just said "nope" privately and not dressed, as is common in football.

Instead he dressed and attempted to warm up, whereupon he looked like a guy who'd injured his hamstring. So unless he's a pathological liar who's simultaneously extremely convincing at faking muscle injuries, he was, you know, injured. Kanell is slandering Peppers without proof.  Probably because he's dumb as a brick.

Here's a guy in need of some firin', ESPN.

When third chances go wrong. If your program has a guy get in trouble, it had a guy get in trouble. It happens. If your program takes a guy with two arrests in his recent past you'd better do your homework, because if he gets in trouble again that is on you. This is on Mark Dantonio:

Robertson was arrested for criminal mischief* in 2015, then arrested shortly before Signing Day for inappropriately grabbing a female student at his high school. MSU issued a statement about the deep background they did on the guy in an attempt to justify the signing:

“Our decision to accept Auston Robertson’s signed National Letter of Intent and Big Ten Tender has been evaluated over the last three months while utilizing all resources available to us to thoroughly review his situation,” Dantonio said.

“Our relationship with Auston began last summer when he committed to Michigan State. When we accepted his verbal (commitment), we also made a commitment to him and his family. We elected not to sign him in early February, and since then he has been accepted into a pretrial diversionary program and must continue to satisfy those requirements. Given all the information available to us, we believe Auston should be provided with an opportunity to begin his education and playing career at Michigan State.”

He lasted barely a year before getting charged with criminal sexual conduct in East Lansing, a charge that is easily predicted by the nature of the battery he got diverted. The above statement should have read "We know this is a risk for the people who will be around Robertson. Sorry. (Not sorry.)" That risk seems to have resulted in something very bad indeed, given the fact that Robertson went on the lam for two days. Even more ominously, Mark Dantonio saw fit to remove him from MSU's team. Short of failing to meet academic eligibility requirements, when does that happen?

This isn't and shouldn't be a rivalry thing. Hopefully the fact that I bombed Brady Hoke and Dave Brandon for their useless lies about Brendan Gibbons demonstrates that 1) nobody is immune from this sort of thing and 2) I'm not just a message board dude with my rivalry lols. It should be about what looks like an institution that has serious issues with sexual assault, at multiple levels.

*[And "resisting law enforcement," a charge which I'm always extremely dubious about.]

Expected starter confirmation. Chris Evans on his spring game deployment:

"I wanted to play more  ... But they said 'nah, nah, nah, you're not going to play, you're not going to play.' I just respected that and just back to the drawing board (for spring practice) on Tuesday."

That is a leader in the clubhouse.

Red encomiums. John Bacon:

Berenson loved the game from the start. When he was a 6-year old kid in Regina, Saskatchewan, for Christmas his parents gave him new skates, new gloves and new shin pads. He was so excited, he called his best friend – at 6 a.m.

When his friend's mom answered, she asked, "Do you know what time it is?"

Berenson replied, "Yes -- but this is important!"

From CHN:

Berenson stepped down Monday after 33 years as Michigan's head coach. He was hired during a tumultuous time in the program's history, May 1984. It was the third time then-athletic director Don Canham had asked him to take over. He was an assistant coach in the NHL at the time. He finally accepted.

"I left a job making $85,000 a year to take a job making $40,000," Berenson said. "I thought, 'Did I get my MBA at Michigan to make a decision like this?' But it was the right thing to do. I loved Michigan and loved the experience I had."

MGoBlue has a thing that's more of a pretty-design item than a story but here is a picture:

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And Hoover Street Rag:

Red Berenson did not invent Michigan hockey, that's Vic Heyliger and Al Renfrew.  But Red did save Michigan hockey, first with the Regina Regiment, then by coming home to Ann Arbor in 1984.  He was hired by Don Canham, and he, slowly but surely, brought Michigan back from the abyss.  He won 848 games in the NCAA, fourth most in college hockey, and starting in 1990-91 when Michigan posted a 34-win season and its made first trip to the NCAAs in 14 years, an event they would not miss for the next 22 seasons, Michigan began a streak of 8 straight 30-win seasons, with 6 Frozen Fours and 2 national titles, Michigan's eighth and ninth all time.  And in all of this, in the down seasons, after the Hunwick fueled miracle run in 2011, after Mel left, and we wondered when would this moment come.  Then came last year, when Michigan hockey was fun again and four NHL-caliber players were lighting the lamp and Michigan won the conference tournament, there was the notion of maybe the old magic had been recaptured, let Red have one more run this year and then hand the reins off after one more season.  But, wishing doesn't make it so, and Michigan Hockey Summer took its toll, as it is wont to do.

Woke Harbaugh continues. Harbaugh on Colin Kaepernick in Time:

Colin Kaepernick was alone in his early protests last year when he boldly and courageously confronted perceived inequalities in our social-justice system by refusing to stand for the national anthem. At times in our nation's history, we have been all too quick to judge and oppose our fellow Americans for exercising their First Amendment right to address things they believe unjust.

Rather than besmirch their character, we must celebrate their act. For we cannot pioneer and invent if we are fearful of deviating from the norm, damaging our public perception or—most important—harming our own personal interests.

That writing style is familiar from the opening video at home games. Feels like every word is capitalized, which is very Harbaugh.

Etc.: Some Peppers fluff. Tom Herman wants it nice and light. Fart man. John Borton reports that Brad Hawkins will play safety at Michigan, as expected. Graham Couch, man.

Pearson Official, Bill Muckalt Likely Assistant

Pearson Official, Bill Muckalt Likely Assistant

Submitted by Brian on April 24th, 2017 at 10:57 AM

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Mel Pearson has been officially announced as Michigan's hockey coach:

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Mel Pearson has been named the University of Michigan's head coach of ice hockey, as announced today (Monday, April 24) by Warde Manuel, the Charles F-ing Woodson Director of Athletics. Pearson, who becomes the ninth head coach in program history, returns to Ann Arbor after previously serving 23 seasons as an assistant coach for the Wolverines.

In addition, Detroit News hockey writer George Sipple asserted this on WTKA this morning:

That would be bad news for one of Billy Powers and Brian Wiseman, the current assistants.

UPDATE: it sounds like John Madden, currently head coach of the AHL's Cleveland Monsters, will not be the second assistant.

MGoPodcast 8.21: Ace Gets a Shock Collar

MGoPodcast 8.21: Ace Gets a Shock Collar

1 hour and 22 minutes

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HomeSure Lending’s Schembechler conference room. Foreground: fancy vases

We Couldn’t Have One Without the Other

This podcast is presented by the Bo Store, UGP & Moe's. Rishi and Ryan have been here since the beginning—shopping with them supports us and supports good dudes.

It was recorded in the Schembechler Room at Homesure Lending’s swanky new Ann Arbor office on State Street, where someone had put “Win the Game” on the whiteboard.

Our sponsors make this possible: The Residence Inn Ann Arbor Downtown, Ann Arbor Elder Law, the the University of Michigan Alumni Association, Deo Bookkeeping, Michigan Law Grad, and Peak Wealth Management.

----------------------------

1. Offense

Starts at 0:55

While Ohio State played two-hand touch and charged fans for a show of fanservice, Harbaugh (with an assist from the weather) packed the Big House by making competitive football the spectacle. QB: Peters is the worst, Speight’s game was concerning. HB: Evans is coaching football. WRs: DPJ & Black look like NFL bodies, Schoenle is real. TE: Wheats can block, Eubanks looks like a TE, Gentry is a gazelle, McKeon has the QBs’ trust. OL: Vastardis is a viable guard. Right tackle is short on guys who can pass pro.

2. Defense

Starts at 33:10

Thanks O’Korn for taking the hit to show off how Hudson can dish them. LB: Devin Bush is gonna rock you—finally our own Denicos Allen. Robo can play. DL: Starters woo, backups woof. CBs: Let’s hope this was a real sign that Washington is good and not a Brandon Watson 2015 thing. St Juste looks like he could use a redshirt. S: Not worried—Metellus ranged out, Glasgow is another Glasgow, Kinnel is flat-out good. Special teams: Is depth at kicker a thing? That kick would be a home run in most ballparks, a double in Comerica. YOU CATCH THE DANG BALL.

3. Gimmicky Top Five Under the Radar Spring Takes

Starts at 53:43

Ace thinks this means “Things that are obvious.” Demo thinks Rashan Gary’s 19-year-old body looks fit. Brian thinks we need a device that delivers electric shocks to podcasters who misbehave. We all think Harbaugh needs a holster for his megaphone, that a Rich Rod package would be cool. Not on the podcast: Seth and David signaling to each other that the five-wide package was about not being able to block Don Brown’s dirty blitzes.

4. Salute to Red Hockey

Starts at 1:10:26

We are fussy because we were babies when Berenson made Michigan hockey awesome. Thank you for all the Comries, and for running the cleanest, most watchable, most likeable, most hateable, most spectacular experience in sports.

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MUSIC:

  • “In The Air Tonight”—Phil Collins
  • “I Aint Gonna Work Tomorrow”—Don Julin
  • “Tea and Thorazine”—Andrew Bird
  • “Across 110th Street”

THE USUAL LINKS

BLACK METAL

BLACK METAL

Submitted by Brian on April 11th, 2017 at 12:06 PM

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IT IS 1998 and hockey is dying.

Its executioners are its own coaches, who have strangled opposing offenses with a variety of neutral zone traps. Scoring is down almost two and a half goals a game from the firewagon 1980s. Jacques Lemaire wins three Stanley Cups playing the most stultifying brand of hockey imaginable. At Michigan State, Ron Mason seeks to win games –1 to –2, and does with depressing frequency. Your author is mere months away from swearing off the Red Wings forever after attending two games at Joe Louis Arena at which the only reaction from the crowd comes on goals, of which there is about one a period, and when a man named "Mo Cheese" does a jiggle-dance on the jumbotron.

That fall, two people walked into Yost Ice Arena for the first time: Mike Comrie and I. I sat in the student section; Mike Comrie set people on fire and laughed about it. I don't know anything about Mike Comrie's childhood but I know it involved ants and a magnifying glass.

I just missed the Brendan Morrison era but even if I'd seen it, I'd probably still believe Comrie is the closest thing to an on-ice avatar of the Red Berenson era in existence. He was a tiny puck wizard who defied all logical modes of playing hockey with sheer talent. It was not uncommon for Comrie to make a zone entry by himself, then tool around the offensive zone like Spike Albrecht doing donuts in the lane. The opposition allowed this because the alternative was approaching Comrie and risking an explosive moment after which Michigan would have another goal and you would have no pants.

Over the next decade it seemed like Michigan had an infinite supply of these guys. After Comrie came Mike Cammalleri, Jeff Tambellini, Eric Werner (who belongs on this list despite being a defenseman), TJ Hensick, Andrew Ebbett, John Shouneyia, and Andrew Cogliano. They were all different versions of the same assassin. Collectively they are this Cammalleri goal.

Under Red Berenson, Michigan hockey was an electric middle finger to the neutral zone trap. It defied NHL norms of the time, and sometimes basic physics itself. It took no quarter, and gave none. It lived in Yost Ice Arena, which for about 15 years was the most intimidating environment in sports.

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YOST WAS BLACK, pitch black. Literally so. The shot at the top of the post is one of the bleachers that I had the good fortune to acquire when Dave Brandon's renovation of Yost was literally throwing them away. It is not the bright and shiny anodyne chrome of the current building. It is not even the respectable deep blue that Michigan has on hand for uniforms, logos, and what-have-you. It is black.

It is unnecessarily black. At one edge the paint has worn down and you can see that underneath there is a layer of blue. Someone erased that blue, probably for no reason at all other than hockey was a non-revenue sport and black paint was cheaper. So they painted it black.

To walk into Yost Ice Arena in 1998 was a mindblowing experience for someone raised on the relatively genteel ways of Michigan Stadium. To be a Michigan fan is to have your nose in the air about the unhinged activities of those people; Yost was the Scarface coke bender kept hidden from public view. It is the only environment in the history of Michigan sports that can be compared in any way to Miami and its general attitude.

I have thought long and hard about why this might have come to be and still have no unifying theory, but by the time you arrived in 1998 at the same time as Mike Comrie it took about three games to fully assimilate into the baying hive mind. Then-Lake Superior State coach Frank Anzalone once told me to "shut the fuck up" between periods, and while I don't remember why he did this I assume he was 100% correct to do so.

And I was just a guy, really, not one of the gentlemen in the section behind the opposing bench. One of the Superfans was there, the guy with the Flintstones water buffalo hat. Next to him was the guy with the megaphone, and around them was a cadre of the dirtiest dudes in town.

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The megaphone, I think, is key to understanding the allure here. We have all had the experience of shouting something in anger at a referee at a football game. This is exactly as effective as shouting at your TV. There are one hundred thousand people in the stands and you are some vast distance away from the field even if you're in row 20; you are just a voice in the crowd.

At Yost, amongst six thousand people, in row ten, with the ears just the other side of some plexiglass, you know damn well that everyone can hear your every word. With a megaphone or without. By the time I had arrived there was a culture that understood and sought to exploit this, and it worked. I can't tell you how many times opposing players tried to spray people in the crowd with water bottles. The opposing parents were seated directly behind their bench, and directly in front of the dirtiest dudes in town, and since the dirtiest dudes in town had a tendency to select one player for excessive torment it was a semi-regular occurrence for a hockey parent to respond in kind. Rarely you'd catch a slightly unhinged one who would fume his way up the stairs and try to get in a fight.

The stupidity and the gloriousness of this should be apparent. For a period of several years the opposing parents had to be located across the rink, the ice serving as a demilitarized zone. Yost got people shook.

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The creation of this seething cauldron in the context of dead-puck-era hockey, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is one of the great miracles of sports. The none-more-blackness of Yost had something to do with it. So did the basketball team's malaise.

But the primary factor was Red Berenson, who never gave a damn about what you thought he should do. Berenson spent four years in college when college was not a path to the NHL. He was literally the first player to ever go directly from the NCAA to the NHL. He was the NHL coach of the year at one point and could have continued being an NHL head coach indefinitely if he so chose. Instead he came back to Michigan. At a time when the primary way to win hockey games was by murdering the game itself he played balls-to-the-wall.

Yost was a magnet for sadists because it was a place you could go and see someone blown off the ice 8-1. A promotion where attendees got free tacos if Michigan scored ten goals had to be discontinued because it was costing too much. Here is an arena where the residents are chanting for more goals when they are already at nine—nine! They are no longer beating the dead horse, but gleefully spitting on its grave. Yost was a reflection of the product on the ice.

Red Berenson did a lot of great things for his university, his players, his student managers, his coaches, his alumni, and they will all remember him for the things he did for them. The thing Red Berenson did for me is turn Yost Ice Arena into the greatest sports environment I've ever been in. He did that because he is metal. Bite-the-head-off-a-bat metal.

Black fucking metal.

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[Bill Rapai]

Red Berenson Expected To Retire

Red Berenson Expected To Retire

Submitted by Brian on April 10th, 2017 at 2:35 PM

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[Patrick Barron]

Per George Sipple:

Berenson is synonymous with Michigan hockey and at some point they should play in Berenson Ice Arena. But after missing the tourney four times in five years and having a very bad team this year despite a reasonable modicum of talent, it is time for a change.

Assuming this does not take a 180 in the next half hour we'll have a post about candidates to replace Red; a fuller appreciation is going to take longer to put together.

WTKA Roundtable: Used to Be Red

WTKA Roundtable: Used to Be Red

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[Robert Kalmbach photograph collection at the UM Bentley Library]

Things discussed:

  • How do you show Red the door when he built the door? A long discussion on what you do when he’s had one foot out for awhile and refuses to go.
  • IS Mel available? Under any circumstance? What is the circumstance? If this gets messy do we need Mel?
  • Craig offers his mediation services pro bono.
  • Nobody reads these bullets do they?
  • Wi not trei a holiday in Sweeden this yer?
  • See the loveli lakes
  • And the mani interesting furry animals
  • Including the majestic pterodactyl
  • and the pitching
  • and DPJ

You can catch the entire episode on Michigan Insider's podcast stream on Audioboom.

Segment two is here.

THE USUAL LINKS

If Red Berenson Won't Retire, He Should Be Fired

If Red Berenson Won't Retire, He Should Be Fired

Submitted by Brian on April 3rd, 2017 at 12:07 PM

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[Patrick Barron]

So here's a post I absolutely never wanted to write. Despite being an e-site on the internet staffed by basement trolls, historically this space has been very slow to get on a soapbox and say FIRE THIS GUY. I was still barely on board with Rodriguez after his third season and only called for Hoke's firing after the Shane Morris concussion fiasco. Meanwhile other parts of the internet call us Beilein slaps, because other parts of the internet are dirt stupid Rome listeners. And I love not just Michigan hockey but damn the torpedoes, screw your trap, let's score a buttload of goals Red Berenson hockey. Without Berenson it's likely I'm not a hockey fan of any variety.

But I kind of have to write this, because apparently missing the tournament for the fourth time in five years with the worst team Red Berenson's had since the mid-80s isn't enough for everyone involved:

This is why I was fretting about Michigan's post-Frozen-Four decision date on Berenson. If there was a decision to make it should have been made midseason, probably after Michigan handed a Tom Anastos-led Michigan State team two of their three conference wins. If not then, then immediately after the season. And yet.

Red Berenson is no longer a good hockey coach. Michigan's decline has been near-constant for a decade, with two items obscuring that: walk-on goalie Shawn Hunwick turning in two of the program's best-ever years in goal and last year's near-unprecedented pile of NHL talent. While Berenson should get credit for each, those are blips as Michigan hockey slaloms downhill.

Even when Michigan has been at a relative peak during their decline, North Dakota pops up to remind us that Berenson's approach has been lapped by modern hockey coaches. The last two times Michigan and North Dakota have met in the NCAA tournament Michigan has gotten outshot two to one. They won one of those with the greatest single-game goalie performance in program history. Last year they lost, meekly, because they could not even get out of their own zone.

That should have been the last straw. Michigan is no longer a program that can go into any game against a top-end foe and expect to have an even game even if their entire power play should already be in the NHL. North Dakota flat-out embarrassed Michigan in that game, and they specifically embarrassed Michigan's coaching.

It was not the last straw, so Michigan fans were treated to a season in which the only thing keeping them from a single-digit-win season was outstanding goaltending. Michigan finished 57th of 60 D-I teams in even-strength Corsi*. Forgive me if I bring out my inner Jim Rome right now, but that is flat-out unacceptable. Michigan controlled their zones about as well as 5-31-3 Niagara, 7-21-6 Alaska-Anchorage, and second-year independent Arizona State—which is still using club players.

Talent is indisputably down, but not that much. There are nine NHL draft picks on the roster and a tenth player (Luke Martin) will go in the next one. It is distantly possible that you could build a case for Red to return if Michigan had missed the tournament by a hair. They did not. They missed it by a mile, and the underlying numbers are even worse than the record.

Michigan's coaching is not and has not been an asset since Mel Pearson left. Pearson is working with scraps and guys from places so remote that Houghton seems like a metropolis in comparison. He's made the tournament twice in the last three years, and finished in the top five of even strength Corsi all three years. His talent is at best average in the WCHA; he outperforms. Berenson's talent was at worst league-average in the Big Ten; he underperforms.

Meanwhile there are signs every year that nobody's afraid of Red anymore—that nobody even respects him. This year Cooper Marody was academically ineligible for the first half of the year, which hasn't happened since I've been paying attention. Every NHL talent flees the instant it's an option. Jon Merrill missed half a season with personal issues a few years back; things never should have gotten that bad with him. When Andrew Copp jumped to the NHL after his junior season, Red slammed his character and that of his father. When Mike Spath related this, Copp's furious father responded at length, explaining why Copp decided that another year in Ann Arbor would not be a positive for his hockey career.

The year Copp decided to leave Michigan excluded him from the hockey banquet entirely: not a mention of his name. For the captain of the team. Does that sound like a rational person?

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[Bill Rapai]

Red Berenson is 77. His hockey team was horrendous this year. He appears increasingly incapable of controlling the kids on his team. He's been on his "final" season for three years now. If he won't retire he is RedPa. Warde Manuel should do him a favor and prevent that from happening.

*[Corsi is your percent of all shot attempts. It is broadly more predictive of future events than actual goals, which are lower in number and subject to goalie vagaries.]