The Tech Hockey Guide staff brainstormed potential candidates and settled on our top picks. Through the next few weeks we will break down potential candidates while discussing pedigree as a player and coach as well as likelihood of being Coach Pearson’s replacement. Yesterday, we profiled two college assistant coaches: Dane Jackson and Keith Fisher. Today we’re taking a look at the possibility of poaching an existing head coach from another program in BGSU's Chris Bergeron.
Bergeron played four seasons for the Miami University Redskins, now known as the Redhawks, between 1989 and 1992. The center was the captain for his junior and senior seasons before going pro and bouncing around the minor leagues for seven seasons. In 304 minor league games Bergeron scored 182 goals and added a further 320 assists.
Birthplace: Wallaceburg, Ontario
Current Position: Head Coach, Bowling Green State (WCHA)
Bergeron joined the Miami Redhawks coaching staff in Enrico Blasi’s second year as the program’s head coach. During Bergeron’s tenure as an assistant, Miami saw a program rebirth with an overall record of 226 wins, 139 losses, and 37 ties. Between 2000 and 2010, the Redhawks won the CCHA regular season twice and the conference tournament championship once. All of this success on the ice led to six berths into the NCAA hockey tournament leading to two Frozen Four visits. The Redhawks reached the national championship game in 2009 where they lost in dramatic fashion, losing a two goal lead in the final minute of regulation before Colby Cohen sealed the comeback for the Boston University Terriers midway through the overtime period. In Bergeron’s final season with Miami, the team found their way back to the Frozen Four, but fell to juggernaut Boston College in the semi-finals.
Notable recruits while at Miami:
- Chris Wideman
- Andy Miele (Hobey Baker Recipient)
- Tommy Wingels
- Alex Martinez
- Andy Greene
- Ryan Jones
During the 2010 offseason, Bowling Green pegged Bergeron as the permanent replacement for Scott Paluch resigned during turmoil a season prior, leaving Dennis Williams to coach the Falcons in the interim. As a result of previous program uncertainty, Bergeron’s contract with the Falcons is heavily laden with commitments to the hockey program, including minimum funding for assistant coaches and a new director of hockey operations position.
In his time at the helm of the Falcons, Bergeron has built them into a powerhouse in the WCHA while stringing together a streak of three seasons of 20 or more wins in a row. In their four seasons in the WCHA, Bowling Green has either finished third or fourth and have been overshadowed by the successes of Minnesota State and Michigan Tech. Even with success, the Falcons have been unable to find their way back into the NCAA tournament, a place they haven’t been since eventual-Boston College coach Jerry York led them there in 1990.
During Bergeron’s tenure the Falcons have seen a number of early departures including:
- 2014 - Ryan Carpenter (F, Jr.), Ralfs Freibergs (D, So.)
- 2015 - Nolan Valleau (D, Fr.)
- 2017 - Mark Friedman (D, Jr.), Chris Nell (G, Jr.)
This trend of early departures for the Falcons may both be a result of their success and a thorn in their side as they work to find themselves back in the national tournament once again.
If Bergeron were to jump from the Bowling Green program, he or his new employer would owe the university $250,000, an amount that Mel Pearson coincidentally owes Michigan Tech per terms of his previous contract with the Huskies. While considered a lateral move to some, Michigan Tech offers an opportunity to not fall beneath the shadow of other athletic programs as hockey does at Bowling Green where football and basketball reign supreme. Bergeron’s contract is supported heavily with incentive bonuses, including revenue sharing should ticket sales surpass baseline numbers. The past few years have seen attendance numbers at Bowling Green trending downwards, likely hindering incentive payments.
It is extremely rare for another school to poach a head coach who’s not at the end of their contract. The most recent examples would be Greg Carvel moving to UMass-Amherst from his alma mater St. Lawrence and Nate Leaman taking over the Friars at Providence after steering Union. Leaman’s successor at Union was able to lead the Dutchmen to their first national championship three years after his departure, a possibility of which that Bergeron might be weary.
Bergeron’s contract term ends in 2023 and requires written permission from the Director of Intercollegiate Athletics prior to speaking to another potential employer. This coupled with a large buyout may be too big of a pill to swallow to consider or be considered for a move to another school.
Success has followed Chris Bergeron in his coaching career. During his time with the Miami Redhawks his teams nearly reached the pinnacle of college hockey. Now as the head of his own program he has the Falcons of Bowling Green on a similar path to success. A move to Michigan Tech would likely be poisoned by the terms of his contract, but his base salary of $185,000 is well below Pearson’s terms while at Michigan Tech. Should Bergeron have any interest in a move, there would have likely been murmurs coming from the Bowling Green community by now.
Feature image courtesy of Tod Pavlack, BGSUHockey.com.