Quinn Leads List of Potential Parker Replacements
by Mike McMahon/Staff Writer
I don’t envy Mike Lynch.
The Boston University athletic director is faced with filling the shoes of Jack Parker, the university’s 40-year head hockey coach who announced on Monday that this will be his last season behind the BU bench.
An arduous task by itself.
But Lynch won’t just be faced with the pressures of hiring the right candidate, he’ll be forced to do so with almost everyone within an arm’s reach of the BU program wanting their voices heard.
College athletics can be more political than Washington nowadays. Most big-money donors will want — rather, expect — that their opinion is not only listened to, but accepted as truth.
Luckily for Lynch, he isn’t short on candidates.
Mike Bavis, Boston University associate head coach
Bavis is the only in house candidate for Lynch. According to reports, Buddy Powers, the former Bowling Green head coach and current BU assistant, bought a house in Bowling Green two weeks ago and likely plans on returning there after this season.
Bavis has been a member of Parker’s coaching staff for 14 seasons, but has no previous head coaching experience. With Parker in his late-60s, it’s likely that Bavis took on more responsibility than most of us realize helping run the day-to-day operations of the program the last few seasons.
As much as that might sound like a positive, it could ultimately be what is his undoing as a candidate.
Bavis runs the risk of being associated with last year’s scandals, where two players were accused of sexual assault.
The on-ice record doesn’t stand to bolster Bavis’ credentials either. In the eight-year period preceding his hire in 1998, the Terriers had appeared in seven Frozen Fours. In the 14 years Bavis has been behind the bench, BU has appeared in just one, winning a national title in 2009.
David Quinn, Colorado Avalanche (NHL) assistant coach
Until 2009, Quinn was widely considered to be the heir apparent to Parker’s throne at BU. He was an associate head coach under Parker for five seasons, including the 2008-09 national title win, and like Bavis, likely took on more responsibility than we’ll ever really know.
After the national title team, Quinn took the head coaching job with Lake Erie in the American Hockey League and last season was promoted to NHL assistant under former Terrier Joe Sacco.
When Quinn left BU to take the Lake Erie job, it could have been to put that ever-important “head coaching experience” on his resume. Former Northeastern coach Greg Cronin, an eight-year NCAA assistant, earned his head-coaching stripes in the AHL with Bridgeport before returning to Hockey East as a head coach.
But since Quinn’s jump to the pro game, his career has flourished, it might have taken him on a new path. He went 115-94-27 in three seasons with Lake Erie and now many NHL pundits consider him to be a future candidate for an NHL head coaching job.
If Quinn is interested, he has to be the frontrunner. He’s a proven recruiter, helping lay the groundwork for an upstart Nebraska-Omaha program in the early 2000s and then playing a key role in assembling BU’s 2009 national title team.
John Hynes, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL) head coach
Like Quinn, Hynes has collegiate experience, previously serving as an assistant with both Massachusetts-Lowell and Wisconsin. Since, he’s been the head coach at the National Development Program and for the past three seasons, has been in charge of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton bench in the AHL.
His resume is as impressive as Quinn’s, albeit without the national title and long tenure in college hockey. But as a head coach, you could argue that Hynes’ resume is even more impressive.
Mike Sullivan, New York Rangers (NHL) assistant coach
On paper Sullivan has most of the credentials. He has head coaching experience, having previously coached the Providence and Boston Bruins before a long stint as an NHL assistant.
But one missing piece on Sullivan’s resume is his collegiate coaching experience.
Andy Murray has made it look easy at Western Michigan, but the fact remains that NCAA and the NHL are two different machines. In college hockey, you’re essentially both the head coach and general manager. You have to recruit players. You have to coach players. At times, you have to be a father to players.
Can Sullivan do it? Sure. But he hasn’t proved it yet. For all intents and purposes, it’s been 23 years since Sullivan has even been involved, day-to-day, with a college program, let alone run one.
Joe Sacco, Colorado Avalanche (NHL) head coach
Sacco’s name was immediately one of the potential candidates listed on Sunday night, as we learned of Parker’s impending announcement.
I’m not sure why.
Sacco isn’t leaving a high-profile, high-paying NHL gig for Boston University unless he’s fired. This is coaching, so at some point, that will happen, but with the young Avalanche team playing better of late — they’re 5-3-2 in their last 10 games, with their only regulation losses coming to Detroit, Chicago and Los Angeles — I doubt it happens before this job is filled over the summer.
The argument I’ve heard most in Sacco’s potential desire to be the next BU head coach is that, if he does well, it has longevity.
Doing well in the NHL has longevity too. No matter who sits in Parker’s seat next season, a few years of failure, as in any job, and nothing’s guaranteed.
In the NHL, Sacco is likely making double, or maybe even triple, what Parker’s salary was at BU.
Staying within the circle
With so many candidates having at one point been inside Parker’s locker room, it’s doubtful that Lynch goes outside the BU circle for the hire. That being said, it doesn’t mean there aren’t some interesting names.
Rick Bennett, like Nate Leaman before him, has to be considered a household name with the work he’s done at Union both with and without Leaman.
Also in the ECAC, Rand Pecknold, who was a strong candidate for the Massachusetts job last season, has likely only seen his stock rise with Quinnipiac’s rise to prominence this year. Seth Appert, Rensselaer's head coach, would be another interesting interview.
There are also plenty of names — some who have even been mentioned by media — that don’t stand a chance.
Tom Fitzgerald was a name thrown into the mix by a prominent Boston hockey writer on Monday morning. Let’s forget that Fitzgerald has never been a head coach anywhere, ever. He’s barely had any experience as an assistant with the exception of one year as a volunteer assistant as Lowell and even turned down the full-time Merrimack assistant job in 2007.
Former Princeton and UMass coach Don "Toot" Cahoon seems extremely happy in retirement.
Mike Cavanaugh and Greg Brown have helped shape Boston College’s program under Jerry York, but Lynch would have a mutiny on his hands if he hired a BC guy.
Parker said Monday that he’ll be involved in the hiring process, but won’t make the final decision. That will be Lynch. It’s the biggest decision he’ll likely ever make on the job.