The New Jersey Devils have been closely watching the University of Michigan hockey season because they have Luke Hughes dominating on the blue line (and Ethan Edwards, a former fourth-round pick). There was a lot invested into Michigan hockey, which also had three of the other top-five picks in this year’s NHL Draft on the team. Hughes has been more than anyone of us could have hoped. He was a Hobey Baker Award finalist in his freshman season. That’s a rarity, especially for a defenseman.
Next season, there are a lot of questions for Luke Hughes. Owen Power, Matty Beniers, Kent Johnson, and others are leaving for the NHL and other opportunities. The only major names staying in Ann Arbor seem to be Hughes and goalie Erik Portillo. Some have said it might make sense for Hughes to take the jump and sign his entry-level contract with the Devils since there’s so much change at Michigan.
It seemed like a bad idea at first. This would give Hughes a chance to make this HIS team. He can get some leadership on his resumé before going to join his brother Jack Hughes in the NHL. Then, we learned something that could change everything. The great Jashvina Shah with College Hockey News brought something up on the Let’s Go Devils Podcast on Wednesday night that could change things.
Apparently, there are major questions about whether Michigan Wolverines head coach Mel Bridgeman will return for his sixth season on the bench. The Wolverines came short of their push for a national title, and there was some controversy surrounding the season. Pearson’s contract expires on April 30th, and there’s no report saying he signed an extension.
It’s further complicated after reporting from The Michigan Daily found reports of a toxic work environment. Complaints directly to Pearson were reportedly never addressed further. There are also reports of discrimination against women, and then there’s the situation with COVID-19 allegations of deception. One report said he told players to lie on contract tracing documents. Michigan ended up getting knocked out of the tournament due to a positive COVID-19 test.
The investigation is what it is. If the allegations are true, that’s terrible and Pearson shouldn’t keep his job. If it doesn’t tell the whole story, then that’s another issue entirely. However, the reason Devils fans should care is it could change Luke Hughes’ decision moving forward.
If Pearson isn’t re-signed, could Hughes decide it’s not worth the risk to stick around? It’s definitely something to keep an eye on. Hughes might be in New Jersey sooner than we expected because of this coaching situation in Ann Arbor.