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Schlossman: Berenson is latest major coaching change at Michigan

Minnesota Duluth and Denver stand on the ice before the NCAA Frozen Four national championship game in Chicago. Photo by Clint Austin, Duluth News Tribune.

For the first time in 33 years, Red Berenson is not the head coach at Michigan.

Berenson stepped down Monday, vacating one of the highest-profile college coaching jobs in the country.

It's the latest move in what's beginning to be an adventurous offseason in the college hockey coaching ranks.

Already gone are Berenson, a two-time national champion at Michigan and Dean Blais, a two-time national champion at North Dakota who had been with Omaha.

Michigan State is on the verge of making a hire to replace Tom Anastos, while RPI, Northern Michigan, Canisius and Niagara also will have new coaches in 2017-18.

There are guaranteed to be at least seven coaching changes for next season. Last year, there were only four. The year before that, there was only one.

Only once in the last decade has there been more than seven coaching changes in a single offseason (10 in 2011).

There may be more ahead, too.

National champion Denver is in wait-and-see mode.

Pioneer coach Jim Montgomery, a candidate a year ago for the Calgary Flames job, is believed to be a candidate for the vacant Florida Panthers job.

Panthers general manager Dale Tallon was in Chicago for the Frozen Four, but was most likely watching Florida first-round draft pick Henrik Borgstrom.

If Montgomery doesn't catch on with Florida, there are other NHL jobs—Las Vegas and Dallas—where he could be pursued.

Michigan Tech also will have to wait and see if it can hang on to Mel Pearson, Berenson's longtime assistant at Michigan. Pearson has led Michigan Tech to more NCAA tournaments than Michigan in the last five years.

Although Berenson spent 33 years at Michigan, his Wolverines never came to Grand Forks once in his tenure for a nonconference game.

The only time they played in Grand Forks was in March 2006 during the NCAA West Regional. UND beat Michigan in that game 5-1.

Michigan was tentatively scheduled to be in Grand Forks for the 2011 Ice Breaker, but the Wolverines pulled out of it and were replaced by Michigan State.

A new coach and a larger nonconference schedule could lead to a rare regular-season matchup between UND and Michigan in the future.

Minnesota coming in October

UND will host Minnesota for the first time since January 2012 on October 20-21 in Ralph Engelstad Arena.

The Fighting Hawks and Gophers are scheduled to play for seven consecutive seasons starting with last year's two-game set in Minneapolis.

They'll play in Grand Forks in October, then they'll meet up a year later—October 2018—in Las Vegas for a single game.

The rest of the schedule is expected to be released this week.

Brad Elliott Schlossman

Schlossman is in his 13th year covering college hockey for the Herald. In 2016, he was named the top beat writer in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors. He has voted in the national college hockey poll since 2007 and has served as a member of the Hobey Baker and Patty Kazmaier Award committees.

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