ST. PAUL, Minn. -- As much as he loved living life on the ice, Red Berenson figured it had to end some day. Six decades later, it still hasn't, leaving the Michigan coach to assume he can stop worrying about finding a second career.
Berenson, 71, put off signing a pro contract so he could play college hockey and get an education to secure his future. The rink has remained his workplace through 17 years as an NHL player, six as an NHL coach and 27 seasons heading the program at his alma mater, which played North Dakota in Thursday's second NCAA Frozen Four semifinal at Xcel Energy Center. Not a bad run for a guy who returned to Michigan to get an MBA, just in case he needed to exchange his skates for a pair of wingtips.
After taking Michigan to its 21st consecutive NCAA tournament, Berenson still feels the passion and drive of a man secure in his calling. The other coaches in this week's Frozen Four can relate. Jeff Jackson, who yearned to attend Notre Dame as a teenager, has the once-lowly Fighting Irish in their second Frozen Four in four years. North Dakota's Dave Hakstol fell firmly in love with his profession despite winning only eight games in his first season as a coach, and success has only sharpened his focus. Scott Sandelin would be thrilled to bring Minnesota Duluth its first national title, since the Hibbing, Minn., native understands what it would mean to that swath of hockey country.