OXFORD, Ohio – The weak need not apply.
That’s the message Chris Bergeron repeatedly delivered to a near-capacity group of alumni, players, fans and staff at Cady Arena on Monday after he was introduced as the next head coach of the Miami hockey team.
Embracing the word ‘Brotherhood’, Bergeron vowed to carry on those standards set by previous coach Enrico Blasi, with whom Bergeron played at Miami and later served as a RedHawks assistant coach under.
“And those expectations and standards and that responsibility is real, and it’s not for everybody,” Bergeron said. “If you jump in with both feet it will be the best four years of your life. And if that responsibility – of being the best version of you on the ice and off – sounds like too much, then don’t come here, because you won’t like it.”
Bergeron was officially welcomed as Miami’s sixth head hockey coach in a press conference in the club seating area at Cady Arena, where the man who last month led Bowling Green to its first NCAA Tournament berth in three decades passionately laid out his plan for returning Miami to Division I relevance.
“We’re going to draw a line in the sand and we’re going to ask (the players) to pick a side on that line,” Bergeron said. “And I’m not going to ask them to talk about it, I’m going to ask them to show, which means finishing out the semester in the classroom, doing what you’re supposed to do in the summer – if that means taking a class – and then getting to the weight room with a purpose.”
That tough talk starkly contrasted with the emotional responses Bergeron gave to questions asked about Blasi, whose name was certain to come up since he had coached Miami for the past 20 seasons.
He seemed humbled by his selection to coach the team he grew up playing for, and he was grateful to the point of nearly breaking down at times.
At the same time, he nailed home the point that hard work was ahead for his new team to right the ship that had been sinking for several seasons.
It was important that he got both of those things across.
Showing his appreciation for the opportunity to coach at his alma mater was easy and natural.
Showing his determination to turning things around was essential with the players, season ticket holders and other alums in attendance. The fan base hasn’t been watching winning hockey for some time and are making the program suffer with their wallets.
The way Bergeron handled an incredibly difficult balancing act of emotions was amazing. He went from the verge of tears to seconds later joking about what his players are going to do to opponents that get in their way.
And it was genuine. That’s been Bergeron’s reputation all along, and it was on display in full force as he officially stepped into the lead role behind the bench.
“I want to be part of the first national championship hockey team at Miami, and that’s going to motivate us every day,” Bergeron said.