Monday, March 25, 2013

Thank You Coach Parker

March 23, 2013 is a day that will forever be important to the fans, players, alumni and coaches of the BU Hockey program. Coach Jack Parker finished his 40th and final season on Saturday night with a 1-0 loss to UMass-Lowell in the Hockey East Tournament Championship. Parker retired 14,327 days after he was hired on December 10th, 1973, when Leon Abbott was fired for withholding information about Canadian players eligibility due to their ties to the CHL (surprise, surprise the CHL was involved in eligibility issues for NCAA players). We had been waiting to really look back on his career because we were partially in denial that he was retiring and because there were games still to be played.  Now that the season and his career are over, we can take a look back at his accomplishments and explain why he is the best college hockey coach of all-time (this is a completely unbiased statement).

During the course of his 14,327 days as head coach, Coach Parker accumulated 897 wins, which is the most all-time by a coach at one school. Sure, there are two coaches with more wins but they split their time between universities and leagues. Parker consistently led his teams against the best teams in the country and usually beat them. He also sports a gaudy .655 winning percentage (897-475-115). The 115 ties are the most ever recorded by a single coach in NCAA history which probably gave him a few gray hairs earlier in his career.  The Somerville, MA native took home  3 National Championships as a head coach (1978, 1995, and 2009) and 2 more as an assistant (1971 and 1972).  He has won 4 ECAC(before it became the EZAC) Tournament titles and 3 ECAC regular season titles.  BU won 7 Hockey East Tournament Titles and 8 Regular season titles under him.  Parker won the Beanpot a whopping 21 times in 40 years. He also won 3 more Beanpots while a player. He won the Spencer Penrose national coach of the year 3 times. He won the Clark Hodder Award for best coach in New England, as decided by the New England Hockey Writers and Broadcasters, 4 times. He won Hockey East Coach of the year 5 times and in our opinion was robbed of the award the other 22 years.

The list of NHL players that he coached is a long one including names like Chris Drury, Mike Grier, Keith Tchachuk, Tony Amonte, Jim Craig, Mike Eruzione, Jay Pandolfo and many more. His coaching disciples have reached throughout the hockey world from Toot Cahoon to David Quinn to John Hynes and more. You have to work pretty hard to find a former player who doesn't respect what Coach Parker did for them. For every Vinny Saponari or Andy Glass there are 50 guys who would do anything for the coach. He ruled with an iron fist but he always did it with his team's best interest at heart. They would get an earful for dumb penalties and stupid mistakes as would the officials on the ice but in our opinion, he was rarely wrong.

He has sat on boards to change the rules of the game nationally and is very outspoken in his beliefs of what is good and bad for the game. He has taken the fight to the Canadians and their corrupt Canadian Hockey League (again, unbiased and truthful statement). For example, he believes in half shields over the full cage. For anyone who has watched any of his press conferences, they know what phrases he uses consistently. From "A thorough game of hockey" to "That was a great college hockey game", he used some of the same lines which is tough not to do after 40 years but he always mixed in some good jokes as well. It seems that the media always respected how honest he was with them even if it made for an awkward conversation. Parker was never one to hide his emotions from telling the media that he thinks Maine and BC teach their players how to dive or how he disagreed with a certain call. He was never going to bullshit you for better or for worse. He sat down with drafted guys each year and told them his honest opinion whether they were ready for the pros or not. He never begged guys to stay another year to win more games (looking at you Jerry). He was honest with them and their families. He built this program into the national powerhouse that it is and the beautiful rink that the team plays and practices in. This program is built to succeed for the long term and therefore is one of the prominent jobs in the country and will have plenty of applicants.

We could go on and on about Parker's accomplishments and pedigree as a coach, but the numbers and facts don't do his legacy justice. What we can tell you is that as a fan, he was a great coach to support. He was the type of guy who was either loved or hated by fans throughout the country. I wouldn't want the head coach of my team to be any other way. You don't want some guy who is trying to placate all the other fan bases and other coaches. Call it how you see it. Maine and BC do dive. No need to sugarcoat it. I want a coach who will fight for his players and what is best for them.

Congrats to Coach Parker on a great 40 years and we wish him the best as he takes his new position as assistant to the president and enjoys his time out on his boat. He will certainly be missed behind the bench next season and leaves huge, non-slip black shoes/sneakers to fill. Here is our own version of a stick salute to Coach Parker on a thorough career of coaching hockey. Congrats Coach!

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