Michigan parts ways with Mel Pearson

After five years as their head coach and another 23 as an assistant coach there, Mel Pearson will not return to coach the Michigan Wolverines next season, per a published report. The dismissal comes in the wake of a damning law firm report on transgressions within the hockey program.

2022 Frozen Four Semifinal - Michigan vs. Denver
The Michigan Wolverines huddled around goalie Erik Portillo prior to the opening faceoff of their NCAA Frozen Four Semifinal game at TD Garden in Boston on Thursday, April 7, 2022.
Jim Rosvold / The Rink Live

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Mel Pearson’s five-season run as head hockey coach at the University of Michigan is done, per New York Times writer John U. Bacon.

Pearson, 63, had run the Wolverines program since 2017 and led them to a Big Ten playoff title and a Frozen Four appearance last season. He finishes with a 99-65-16 record at Michigan. Prior to taking over the Wolverines program he spent six seasons at Michigan Tech, where he had played as a collegian, and went 118-92-29 with the Huskies.

Officially, Pearson’s contract at Michigan expired on May 1, but the school insisted he was their head coach going forward despite the lack of a current contract. With the release of a law firm’s investigative report this week detailing numerous problems within Pearson’s program, pressure had increased on the school to make a change at the top of one of the more successful teams in college hockey history.

Pearson Mug.jpg
Mel Pearson
Daryl Marshke / University of Michigan Athletics

Prior to his head coaching position at Michigan Tech, Pearson spent 23 years as Red Berenson’s assistant coach and chief recruiter with the Wolverines, helping put together two national champion teams and playing a role in 10 Frozen Four appearances. He has a 217-157-45 record as a head coach.

Originally from Canada, he moved to the Twin Cities as a teen when his father skated for the WHA’s Minnesota Fighting Saints, and stayed in Edina where he played prep hockey for the Hornets.


Brock Faber, Matthew Knies and Logan Cooley will skate for Team USA when the 2022 World Junior Hockey Championship begins on Aug. 9, as that trio of Minnesota Gophers was named to the Americans' 25-man roster.
Roughly 48 hours after parting ways with Mel Pearson, the University of Michigan picked a former Wolverines player — recruited by Pearson — and assistant coach to lead their program for the coming season.
The American team leadership will have a Big Ten flair, with former Michigan standout Thomas Bordeleau and Notre Dame star Landon Slaggert named alternate captains.
With a pair of commitments this week, the Minnesota Gophers will be adding a familiar name at forward and an adopted Minnesotan on defense in future years. Plus, a Gophers captain will wear the C in international competition.
A decade ago, I got to know Mel Pearson when he was a college hockey head coach for the first time, and met one of the sport's good guys. As a damning report on his time at Michigan is revealed, it is fair to be disappointed, bewildered and disgusted.
UMass declared the graduate student forward medically disqualified to compete after an injury suffered during spring workouts. Wait won a NCAA title with the Minutemen after transferring from the Minnesota Gophers following his sophomore season.
In all, 15 with ties to the Gophers women's hockey program were invited to Buffalo to try out and train for international competition in Denmark and Canada, and 12 will attend.
The former White Bear Lake High School and University of Minnesota forward is one of the organizers for the 2023 Hockey Day Minnesota event that will take place in White Bear Township. Anderson also talks about his playing career with The Rink Live's Jess Myers and Mick Hatten.
From Minnesota to Michigan to New York to Quebec to Virginia, then back to Michigan before (hopefully) a trip to Alberta for World Juniors, incoming Gophers defenseman Ryan Chesley will be well-traveled by the time he gets to Dinkytown.
Last season, Jack LaFontaine got one NHL start to prove himself with the Carolina Hurricanes. After being a top-10 draft pick a generation ago, Jason Herter got one game, just one, to prove himself at the NHL level.
After just 75 minutes on the ice in the NHL, Jack LaFontaine was effectively laid off by the Carolina Hurricanes, who had rushed him out of college in the middle of the Minnesota Gophers' season. It serves a reminder that in pro sports, the athletes are too often treated like chess pieces and not people.
The Minnesota Gophers are adding another burst of experience to their already loaded women's roster, as defender Lizi Norton is transferring from UMD. Also, former men's captain Sammy Walker will test the free agent waters, and Buckeyes national champion Liz Schepers signs with the hometown Whitecaps.

The coaching change comes less than two months before the Wolverines are expected to open the 2022-23 season. The school is expected to name an interim head coach in the coming days.

Michigan is the second Big Ten program to make a coaching change in the off season. In April, Danton Cole was fired by Michigan State and replaced by Adam Nightingale.

Jess Myers covers college hockey, as well as outdoors, general sports and travel, for The Rink Live and the Forum Communications family of publications. He came to FCC in 2018 after three decades of covering sports as a freelancer for a variety of publications, while working full time in politics and media relations. A native of Warroad, Minn. (the real Hockeytown USA), Myers has a degree in journalism/communications from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He lives in the Twin Cities. Contact Jess via email at, or find him on Twitter via @JessRMyers. English speaker.
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