From John Buccigross himself so likely to be accurate:
Sources tell me Mel Pearson is the new Head Coach of @umichhockey. He succeeds Red Berenson. pic.twitter.com/U09KBnjS8F
— Bucci Mane (@Buccigross) April 23, 2017
Everyone reading this likely has at least a vague idea of who Mel Pearson is, but the Cliffs Notes: long, long time Red Berenson assistant who left to be the head coach at Michigan Tech, his alma mater, several years ago. Michigan immediately dropped off and Tech got a lot better. A lot. In 2015 the Huskies got their first bid to the NCAA tournament since 1981(!), and Tech was a two-seed. They went again this year by winning their conference tourney.
It's a bit hard to tell exactly how much Tech's newfound success comes from Mel and how much is the radical reshaping of Western college hockey occasioned by the creation of Big Ten hockey. The WCHA went from the most powerful league in the country to a mid-major, and Tech's rise is partially due to that.
On the other hand, Tech was top five in ES Corsi the last three years. Mel Pearson can coach, and he knows his way around Ann Arbor. It might work out. From a year ago:
I was going to put a vertical line on the chart when Mel left for Tech and then I realized it was already more or less there. It's the blue uptick and red downtick in 2012. Pearson got Tech in the tourney for the first time since 1981 last year. This year the Huskies won their first conference title since 1976. (I realize this WCHA is not the old WCHA but when you're Tech hockey any hardware is a miracle.) They've currently scrapped their way onto the bubble again. Pearson immediately made Tech much better and now that it's his program they're at a level they haven been at since Pearson was playing in Houghton.
Yes, he's a bit older than is ideal at 57. On the other hand, Red was 57 in 1997. He won a national title the year before and the year after. Michigan has the raw tools to win a national title every year; there need be no building phase. Even if Pearson does retire at around 65, you get almost a decade out of him. That decade is immediately productive. He is obviously a top-level coach who was a linchpin of Michigan's success under Red.
I'd have preferred one of the younger slam dunk guys but the first person to compare this hire to Brady Hoke gets ejected into space.