Bowling Green State University hockey coach Chris Bergeron comes to the Falcons after serving as an assistant coach at Miami (Ohio) for the last 10 seasons. He helped his alma mater earn six NCAA tournament bids and back-to-back appearances in the Frozen Four the last two seasons. He played for from 1989-93 and led Miami to its first Central Collegiate Hockey Association title as a senior. He then spent seven years as a pro, logging time in Toledo in the early 1990s. He and his wife, Janis, live in Bowling Green with their sons Logan, 9, and Connor, 6.
What was it that attracted you to the Bowling Green job?
“First of all was the opportunity to be a head coach in the CCHA. A very close second was the history that this program has. I didn't realize the passion, the intensity that people have for this program, until I got into the process. I think this is the perfect fit for me and for my family at this point in my career.”
How did you deal with the whispers that the program was on the verge of being shut down?
“I had a pretty good gig where I was, so I wanted to make sure those questions were answered for me and for my family. I wanted to look at my family, my assistant coaches, and players and recruits and be able to tell them that hockey will be in Bowling Green for a long time. I felt the answers I got were perfect; not only will it be around, but people want for it to be great — and they are willing to do what it takes to help us get there.”
What will it take to get Bowling Green back to the elite level?
“First, we need to get players. Not to say there aren't great players here now; we just need to expect more from ourselves and from one another on a daily basis. We also need to be very good at paying attention to detail. The foundation is that we want to be great at everything we do on a daily basis. The focus is on daily improvement.”
Do you see similarities between this situation and the situation at Miami?
“Yes, I think there was a time when Miami's program was on the chopping block. The reality is that we don't play in the Mid-American Conference, and yes, it's a budget-heavy sport. But they also are both sports that are very, very relevant on their campuses. People thought we invented the wheel at Miami, but that wasn't the case. We started with people; we brought in people who wanted to be great, who expected a certain level from themselves and from each other, and tried to help them get the most out of themselves.”
Have you thought about your first game as a head coach?
“I have thought about it, and I don't really know what to expect. I can tell you that, as a head coach, I'm a work in progress. When I talk about daily improvement, I mean myself and the staff as well. I want to get better as a coach on a daily basis. Will there be nerves? Certainly. But I think there will be more excitement than nerves.”
Do you have a timeline in place to resurrect the program?
“Whatever it takes. But I do think we're closer than people think. There are 27 guys in our lockerroom now who want to be better. But it's easier to say that than to live it. Our talent isn't night-and-day different from the best teams in our league. We've got talent. We need to improve that talent — and get more out of that talent.”
What are your memories of playing hockey in Toledo?
“The Sports Arena and the expectation of winning. Both times I was here there was a sense that you went to Toledo to win championships. I remember the Sports Arena on many nights was a crazy place to play. But if you came here, you were expected to play your part in winning a championship.”
What music got you fired up to play when you were on the ice?
“Something heavy metal for sure. I never was allowed to grow my hair long or wear concert t-shirts, but any heavy metal was pretty good. Maybe Ozzy Osbourne or Black Sabbath or something like that.”
How are the players from your playing days different from the players you coach now?
“I think the players from my era were a little more on their own. They came to the rink, did their work and went home. Now there's more nurturing; there's more focus on the coach-player relationship. I don't know how important it was ‘back in the day' to have a relationship with the coach; now I know it is very important. The prototype coach who yells and screams 24-7 probably isn't as successful as he once was.”
What would people would be surprised to know about you?
“I do enjoy karaoke once in a while. I'm a Bon Jovi guy – “Wanted Dead or Alive” is my song. And I'm a closet dancer. I enjoy dancing.”