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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.

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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 jrmyers@forumcomm.com, or find him on Twitter via @JessRMyers. English speaker.
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