Jack Parker’s career by the numbers and beyond
Forty years. That’s 40 different Boston University hockey teams, 40 years of incoming freshmen who probably didn’t know what they were getting into and 40 years of graduating seniors who probably wished they could play in that Terrier sweater just one more time. And Jack Parker was behind the bench for it all.
After 40 years as the head coach of Boston University men’s hockey, Jack Parker is retiring. When it comes to Parker, there are a lot of conflicting opinions. Love him, hate him, or just plain respect him, there’s no denying his impact on college hockey when taking a look back at his career.
Here are some highlights by the numbers:
- 894: Total number of wins, the most of any coach at just one program.
- 40: Number of seasons Parker coached at Boston University.
- 3: NCAA Championships. They came in 1978, 1995, and 2009.
- 3: Also the number of times Parker was named Division I Coach of the Year, in 1975, 1978, and 2009.
- 23: Number of Olympians coached by Parker
Parker played at BU from 1965 to 1968 including a year as senior captain. While in red and white, Parker played on three Beanpot-winning Terrier teams and played in the NCAA tournament twice – BU finished fourth in 1966 and second in 1967. He then began his coaching career at Medford High School. It didn’t take long for Parker to return to Commonwealth Avenue, though, and he became an assistant coach at his alma mater in 1969. By 1973, Parker was head coach – but who could have guessed he’d still be there four decades later?
“It just tells you the passion and love that Jack has for the university and coaching,” said former player and Olympian Mike Eruzione. “I don’t think you’ll see it again. I don’t think coaches want to coach that long anymore.”
While most will remember Parker for the trophies and titles, the biggest testament to his coaching could be his players long after they’ve left the BU program.
Eruzione and Colby Cohen, a current Providence Bruin who played for Parker from 2007-2010, both said they’ve only gotten closer with Parker following their careers at BU.
And maybe even more importantly, Cohen said Parker molded his players to succeed after they take the Terrier sweater off.
“Every coach has a different coaching style, but Coach Parker, he gets you ready to be a professional and he teaches you how to carry yourself in a certain manner on the ice and off the ice,” Cohen said.
For Parker, his lengthy coaching career could easily go on and on. He mentioned current freshman Dan O’Regan‘s talent and spoke at his retirement press conference about how he’d love to coach O’Regan and see him play as a senior. The same goes for next year’s recruits, and the year after that. There will always be another player he’d like to coach, but eventually it becomes time to walk away.
“The question is why, and again, it’s time,” Parker said. “I’ve been coaching the team for 40 years, I’ve been the coach here for 44 years, I was a player here before that so for 48 out of the last 49 years, I’ve been reporting for duty here for BU hockey and that’s enough. It’s a tough job.”
Taking a look at the aforementioned numbers; 894 wins, three national titles, and a team headed into the Hockey East playoffs this weekend, they certainly stand out. But none of those numbers made it into Parker’s explanation of the best part of his career.
“The best part of my job is my relationship with my players and their families, without question,” the coach said. “Competing is a lot of fun. Competing with younger guys. They kind of keep you young, it doesn’t look it now, but they did keep me young for a long time. But I think the relationship you have with the players is the thing I’ll have the rest of my life and with their parents too. It’s been absolutely fabulous that way, and I think that’s the thing.”
Despite the trophies and the glowing remarks from former and current players, Parker’s name and the BU program will undoubtedly be linked with the negativity of last season, when former Terrier Corey Trivino was arrested on charges related to sexual assault and then teammate Max Nicastro was arrested on charges of attempted rape 10 weeks later.
And while Parker acknowledged it was a trying time for himself and the program, when it comes to whether the incidents will tarnish his legacy, he said people have their own opinions of what happened – and they’re welcome to those opinions.
“The people that I’m most concerned about know what BU hockey is all about,” Parker said. “The people that are sitting here, the families of my players, the families of my former players as well as my former players, the people in the press that know me well and know my program well, they know what it’s all about.”
Parker will stay on at Boston University in a fundraising capacity, but his time as a hockey coach will decidedly end when BU’s postseason does – that could come this weekend in a Hockey East quarterfinal series against Merrimack University or it could be weeks from now. It all depends on how far the Terriers can take it.