November 7, 1968 marks an important date in the history of the St. Louis Blues franchise. It’s where, in their 2nd season in the NHL, Blues legend Red Berenson became the 1st player in modern NHL history (1967 expansion-present) to score 6 goals in 1 game. Toronto’s Darryl Sittler would accomplish the same feat in 1976 on February 7.
Berenson opened the scoring on that fateful day in Philadelphia, his 1st tally at 16:42 of the opening period. It was his 4th of the 1968-69 season and he was far from finished.
The aptly named “Red Baron” scored 4 more in the 2nd period for goals 5, 6, 7, and 8 of his 35 goals, 42 assists, and 72-point campaign in 76 games played. He’d also be a top 5 finalist for that season’s Hart Trophy (league MVP), finishing 4th in voting and 5th in Lady Byng Memorial Trophy (best sportsmanship) voting.
Big Red would get his final goal of that Philly game at 14:04 of period 3, after teammates Terry Crisp, his 1st of that season at 3:46, and Camille Henry’s 9th of 68/69 right at the halfway point of the period made it 6-0 St. Louis.
Berenson’s scoring prowess was so great that even the Philly faithful cheered his name as if he were to have been traded to the soon-to-be Broad Street Bullies. That may seem a little strange until you learn that the Blues themselves weren’t exactly the most liked of teams the season prior among the Flyers fans, possibly due to their 3 straight Stanley Cup Finals appearances, one of which came that very season.
There have been many 5 goal games put on by players in very recent times, including at least one occurrence in the last two seasons, first by the San Jose Sharks’ Timo Meier in January last year and Buffalo Sabres superstar Tage Thompson in December of that year. So it might not be unheard of for a 3rd occurrence of a 6 goal game to happen this season, even 55 years later.
As for Berenson, he enjoyed a lengthy and stellar NHL career, playing in two stints with the Blues, the first from 1967-68 after being traded midway through that season from the New York Rangers. That came after playing his first 5 pro years up in Montreal, where he’d win his only Cup in 1964/65.
He’d also wear 3 different sweater numbers during his time with the Habs before coming to St. Louis and wearing the now famous 7. In 1974 and until the end of his 17-year, 4-team NHL career, Berenson wore the number 9 for St. Louis and made a total of 6 NHL All-Star Game appearances – 1 with Montreal and Detroit in addition to a pair with the Blues.
Red’s biggest accomplishments came as a coach, however, as the head of the University of Michigan where he won 2 NCAA titles in 1996 and 1998 and 11 NCAA Frozen Four appearances. He’d also pick up a 2016 Big Ten conference title, capping an equally stellar collegiate career in addition to his NHL career, with 848 wins.
Berenson’s accolades for coaching weren’t just limited to the NCAA, though- he’d win the Jack Adams Award as the NHL top head coach in 1981 while at the helm of the team he’d just finished playing for- those very same Blues. And while all this hasn’t qualified him for the Canadian Hockey Hall of Fame somehow, he is a member of the US HHOF and the Blues’ new Hall of Fame as well as Michigan’s Sports Hall of Fame. Name an honor for a player or coach, this guy truly had it all. Absolutely a legend in his own unique way. Maybe even the Great Gretzky would be surprised at this man’s trophy cabinet. Just maybe.