When Jack Parker announced his resignation as the head coach of Boston University’s men’s hockey team on Monday, he acknowledged the tremendous number of student-athletes that he has had the opportunity to coach in his 40 years behind the Terriers’ bench.
“I’m saddened to be walking away from the BU hockey program, but glad at the same time because it’s been a great run and 40 years is enough. I’m really looking forward to taking my grandchildren to BU hockey games next year,” Parker said at his press conference. “The university has treated me so well over my career, and I’m truly honored to be associated with such a wonderful place and all the outstanding young men I had the pleasure of coaching.”
In coaching one of the country’s top college hockey teams, Parker is responsible for leading many players who have entered the National Hockey League following their time at BU. The Nashville Predators are among many NHL teams that Parker’s long legacy has influenced.
Paul Fenton, Nashville’s assistant general manager, played for Parker at BU in the late 70s and early 80s before embarking on his professional playing career.
Fenton is not the only Parker pupil in the Predators front office as Jeff Kealty, the team’s chief amateur scout, played at BU in the mid to late 90s. In his four seasons with the Terriers, Kealty and his teammates won four Beanpots. The annual Beanpot Tournament matches Boston’s four Division I hockey playing schools; BU, Boston College, Harvard, and Northeastern, and the battle for Boston bragging rights rivals only the national championship in its level of importance among the participants.
Nashville’s current roster features two former Terriers in forwards Colin Wilson and Brandon Yip.
Yip said that Parker is definitely not the type of person who forgets his players once their collegiate eligibility is completed.
“He’s an unbelievable coach, and everyone will tell you that, but knowing him for all these years, he’s definitely been a mentor and someone I can call when things aren’t going well in the NHL or even if things aren’t going well at home," Yip said. "He’s always a guy you can call and he will have you in and talk it out. He will be missed.”
Growing up in Vancouver, British Columbia, Yip did not know a whole lot about US college hockey, but on his visit to Boston, Parker was the one who convinced him to make the long journey from Western Canada to Boston to spend his college years.
“I didn’t know much about college, the whole experience, but when I went on my fly-down, he showed me around,” Yip said. “He had a great reputation. He turned a lot of guys pro, and that was really interesting for me. The school itself, it is a great school academically and pretty much a no-brainer myself. Going down to visit, talking to him one-on-one, he definitely persuaded me in the right direction.”
Yip and Wilson were teammates on the 2009 Terriers team that won what is regarded as one of the most exciting National Championship games ever played.
“It is something we will never forget,” Yip said. “I am still tight with all the guys on that team. We all stay in contact. We try to see each other in the summer. Obviously Jack is still a big part of that. I still remember rubbing his bald head when we won. It was pretty awesome.”
Parker’s pipeline to Nashville does not end there. Garrett Noonan, a player Nashville selected with the 112th overall selection in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, is a junior defenseman at BU and looks to have a promising professional career ahead of him.