Jack Parker Announces Retirement
CHN Staff Report
BOSTON Jack Parker announced his retirement Monday after 40 years as Boston University's head coach.
Boston University made the move official at a 3 p.m. news conference at Agganis Arena. The announcement came on Parker's 68th birthday. Athletic director Mike Lynch and BU president Robert Brown joined Parker for the announcement.
"I didn't want to go through a farewell tour of the other rinks in the league," Parker said. "At the same time, I didn't want to wait until the end of the year when all the games were over. ... I always talk about BU being a family, I've got two daughters and (more than 200) sons, and the team right now are my youngest sons, and I'm not going to have any more children."
Parker said he would've retired last year, more than likely, had there not been the issues with the hockey program, where it was the subject of an internal investigation into its culture following the arrest of two players on sexual assault charges.
"I probably would've retired last year had we not had a couple incidents that got all over the front pages," Parker said. "I decided I just couldn't do it then."
Parker took over the Terriers in 1973, just five years after graduating from BU, and has led the program to three national championships — in 1978, 1995 and 2009. His 894 career wins are third all-time, and the most by any coach at a single school. He's coached more than 25 all-Americans and two Hobey Baker winners (Chris Drury in 1998 and Matt Gilroy in 2009).
"I've been the head coach here for 40 years. I was an assistant coach here before that, and I played here for four years. So for 48 of the last 49 years I've been reporting to BU hockey, and that's enough," Parker said.
He joked during the event that upon taking the job, he told his mentor and former BU coach Jack Kelley that he probably wouldn't last 10 years — or, as long as Kelley did before leaving to coach pro hockey.
Parker had those opportunities as well. He flirted with taking the head coaching job with the Boston Bruins in both 1991 and 1997, ultimately deciding to stay.
"I seriously thought about it because it was the easy thing to do," Parker said of those times. "It would be pretty cool. I kept saying (to myself), 'Think beyond the press conference, get the ego out of the way.' (Then-Bruins general manager) Harry (Sinden) said, 'I knew you wouldn't take the job. Imagine at BU people walk by and say hi, how you doing. That never happens over here.' I don't think I would've survived in that world."
Under Parker, the Terriers have made 24 NCAA tournaments and 13 Frozen Fours. They have won 11 regular-season titles (three ECAC, eight Hockey East) and 11 conference tournament titles (four ECAC, seven Hockey East).
Parker and the Terriers are set to host Merrimack in the Hockey East quarterfinals beginning on Friday. The coach said he made the decision to announce prior to the playoffs because he wanted to go through process with his team.
"I hope (Merrimack coach) Mark Dennehy doesn't think it's a ploy so we can get a win against Merrimack," Parker joked on Monday. "I wanted (the team) to know we were going to go through this together."
There are numerous Boston University alumni working in coaching, both in college and throughout the pros, that would be prime candidates to replace Parker. Among those that immediately come to mind are current associate head coach Mike Bavis, and current pro coaches Mike Sullivan, David Quinn, John Hynes and Joe Sacco — all of whom played under Parker.
Sullivan has been a head coach with the Boston Bruins, and is currently an assistant for the New York Rangers. Quinn left his post as a BU assistant four years ago and is currently an assistant with the Colorado Avalanche, where he coaches under Sacco. Hynes, the youngest of the aforementioned group, is currently head coach with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL.
Lynch said on Monday that Parker would play a role in choosing is successor. However, the final decision will be made by the athletic director.
"In the weeks ahead, we'll be assessing the interest of several potential candidates," Lynch said. "This is a marquee job. I'd like to say it's the best job in college hockey. And that's primarily because of (Parker). It hasn't been open in a really long time."
"I will have a say in it. I will be involved, but I will not pick (the next BU coach)," Parker said. "There will be a few people involved, and we'll get the best guys available."
Parker will also be staying on as a fundraiser for the athletic department, and his contract was extended through 2018 in that capacity.
Current BU captain Wade Megan said Parker's decision has added extra motivation to advance as far as possible. He does not believe the team will feel any additional pressure.
"I don't think there's any added pressure," Megan said. "It just gives another reason to try to do the best we can. We know it's his last run at it, and we want to send him out on top.
"He's always had a way of motivating us. Maybe this is just one of his ways to get to us. One of the things that's so remarkable about him is his passion. He still has the fire and the competitiveness."
With all of the close relationships Parker has made, particularly with former players, he said none was more profound than with Travis Roy. Roy was famously paralyzed just 11 seconds into his first shift of his freshman year, in 1995. Parker said Monday that, despite Roy playing the least of any of his former players, he is the one he's closest to.
But it didn't end there, certainly.
"(Our relationship) hasn't changed very much," former BU player Mike Grier, who played for Parker from 1993-1996, said. "We talk a little less about hockey than we used to. We always talk about life and family. He always has some advice. It's a great relationship from the moment you meet him. You know he cares for you and that he wants the best for you."
Other prominent college hockey coaches, former players and friends of Parker chimed in throughout the day congratulate him and discuss their relationship following the announcement.
"I look up to him because he was a college coach for a long time before I came here," Michigan coach Red Berenson said. "It was a very respectful relationship."
"Jack and I have enjoyed a relationship that has stood the test of time," BC coach Jerry York said in a release. "It goes back to our high school days and dates back 50 years. We’ve competed against one another, and we’ve coached against one another for a long, long time. There have been so many unbelievable games that have provided countless memories for the both of us. I appreciate his competitive drive and his hockey knowledge. One of the greatest attributes about our relationship is that, although we’ve been in a competitive situation for such a long duration, we still maintain a unique personal relationship. From recruiting to coaching against one another in big games, we’ve maintained respect for one another. I’m grateful for that. I’d like to wish Jack and his family the best in retirement."