By Matt Slovin -
ANN ARBOR - If you ask Michigan coach Red Berenson, his three leaders this season — captain A.J. Treais and alternate captains Lee Moffie and Mac Bennett — fall in three different places on the leadership spectrum. And Berenson, beginning his 29th season at the helm, is quite alright with that.
Moffie is “gregarious and even outrageous at times,” Berenson noted twice this week. The senior defenseman will be called upon to be a vocal leader for the Wolverines, who are coming off an overtime loss to Cornell in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
“I feel like it’s my team now, which is a pretty special feeling,” Moffie said. “There are no days off for me anymore. Maybe some days, I’d come here and hide out a little bit, (but) now all the spotlight’s on us.”
Treais, meanwhile, isn’t nearly as loud on and off the ice as Moffie. Berenson calls the Bloomfield Hills native and U.S. NTDP alum more of a “lead by example” type of captain. While that was a quality the team observed in the senior forward last season when they voted him captain, Berenson said he continues to be impressed by Treais’ development.
“(Treais) is a little bull out there,” Berenson said. “Whether it’s a sense of being a senior or being a captain, I notice a change in him on the ice.”
Bennett, on the other hand, serves as the perfect complement to the two other team leaders. The junior defenseman, one of the team’s most improved players in 2011-12, isn’t as vocal as Moffie, but he’s not as soft-spoken as Treais either. This season, though, he’s got more on his hands than in years past, and that’s a challenge Bennett is embracing with open arms.
“The last two years I would come in and kind of worry about myself,” Bennett said. “Now I have to worry about everyone now.”
With a large freshman class — seven newcomers in all — strong leadership will be key to the Wolverines’ success this season. Berenson seems extremely comfortable with the trio of leaders, believing that the team is in strong hands. But it wasn’t always that way during his tenure at Michigan. He’s had captains that have left him scratching his head.
“We’ve had captains that got too carried away, and they forgot what they’re supposed to do.”
Moffie, Treais and Bennett are all wearing letters for the first time in their Michigan careers. If they produce at the levels Berenson expects and lead in their individual ways, Michigan fans probably won’t even be able to tell.