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Posted on Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 5:43 a.m.

Red Berenson eliminates hazing of freshmen from Michigan hockey program

By Pete Cunningham


Michigan coach Red Berenson has eliminated freshmen hazing from the Michigan hockey program.

Melanie Maxwell |

Freshman hazing was a part of the Michigan hockey program when Red Berenson was a player in the 1960’s and during every one of his 28 years as head coach.

It will not be for year 29.

Berenson said he’s never been a fan of the rights of passage or freshmen duties ingrained in the program and finally decided to formally eliminate them before this season.

“We’ve taken all of the little freshmen things out of our program,” Bereson said after practice on Wednesday. “It’s hard enough to make the transition as a freshman without going through some of that. It’s borderline embarrassment or humiliation.”

Berenson said Michigan’s “hazing” has always been on the tame end - especially compared to what he went through as a rookie in the NHL. Traditionally, freshmen have had to carry the pucks to and from the ice before and after practice, load the team bus for away games and be last in line to eat at team meals, among other things.

Thumbnail image for um-hockey-guptill-vertical-hockey.jpg

Alex Guptill led Michigan in goals (16) and points (33) as a freshman.

All of those traditions have been eliminated.

“I’ve never liked the whole hazing thing,” Berenson said. “I think some of the players think it’s a chance to get back at what happened to them and they want to make it worse rather than better and so on, so I’ve taken it right out of our program.”

Berenson said there was no specific incident that triggered the decision and that the change is simply to promote team unity.

“They’ve earned the right to be here and they might be some of our best players,” Berenson said, using the example of Alex Guptill, who led the team is scoring last year as a freshman.

Some of the more highly touted freshmen in this year's class are defenseman Jacob Trouba, the ninth overall selection by the Winnipeg Jets in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Cristoval "Boo" Nieves, a second round pick by the New York Rangers and goalie Jared Rutledge, who is expected to be the primary starter.

“I think it will help the freshmen feel embraced and accept their roles and be more excited about being on this team and not intimidated by the upperclassmen,” Berenson said. “Let’s not remind us that we’re freshmen. They’ve already been reminded, now let’s play.”

Michigan opens the 2012-13 season against Rochester Institute of Technology at Yost Ice Arena on Thursday, October 11.

Pete Cunningham covers sports for Contact him at Follow him on Twitter @petcunningham.


Rod Johnson

Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 1:46 a.m.

"Rites," not "rights."

Billy Bob Schwartz

Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 1:07 a.m.

Hazing of any kind is still hazing. Being a new guy is hard enough, especially at a great and challenging school such as Michigan. Why not make the new men feel at home and equal. As Coach says, they may not be equal...they may be a lot better. Cut the guys some slack. I admire Coach Berenson, and this is another example of the quality of his coaching.


Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 8:10 p.m.

The "Hazing" that the freshman go through, was minimal at best. But, if Coach said enough... I'm good with that.


Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 1:17 p.m.

"Hazing: to subject to abusive or humiliating tricks and ridicule" - what was written about was not hazing, the title and beginning of the story gave the impression that Red had tolerated institutional hazing, such as you would encounter in fraternities, rather than simply underclassmen having puck and bag duty (which occurred on every hockey team I ever played on). While I applaud the decision as a way to promote team unity, using the word hazing to describe it is sensationalism.


Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 7:57 p.m.

Janell- When talking about Michigan's tradition, the writer put hazing in quotes. That's a fair enough qualification, in my opinion.


Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 7:38 p.m.

There are different degrees of hazing, and what U-M players had to do as described in the article IS a form of hazing. So, I see no sensationalism (as you describe it) in this article. Personally, I'm very glad to hear that Coach Berenson made this decision. Traditions should not be continued just because they've always been done. If they don't add anything to the sport or improve teamwork,(which I don't believe hazing on a sports team do) get rid of it.

Pete Cunningham

Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 5:54 p.m.

Red used the word hazing himself.


Fri, Oct 5, 2012 : 10:54 a.m.

Way, way overdue.