Father Figure

Parker's Mark On The Game Not Measured By Wins Or Titles

BOSTON — Over the course of his 40 seasons at Boston University, Jack Parker led the Terriers to 897 victories, won three NCAA championships, developed 24 players who would represent the United States in the Olympics and received countless awards and recognition as one of the greatest coaches in the history of the game. 

But one contribution that often goes unnoticed on the Somerville, Mass., native’s impressive resume is the number of former players and coaches who have gone on to help shape the next generation of American players. 

According to the Terriers sports information department, there are currently 23 BU alums working in the NHL, including head coaches Mike Sullivan and John Hynes.

This season there are also 11 current and former players who are coaching at college programs, including David Quinn, who took the BU reins when Parker retired after the 2012-13 season. Another Parker disciple, Brian Durocher, is the head coach of BU’s women’s team.

There are also a handful of players, including two-time U.S. Olympian Tony Amonte, who coach at prestigious New England prep schools.

“I coached at BU for 40 years and you don’t keep that job for that long without some great assistant coaches. And you don’t keep winning unless you have good players,” Parker said prior to being inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2017.

“I don’t know if I would recommend for anyone to get into this business, to tell you the truth.  But I’m very proud of the guys who have gone on to coach elsewhere. They all wound up being better coaches than I was. And I’m proud of that, too.”

It may be hard to find anyone in Beantown, or anywhere else for that matter, who would agree with the man who won more games at a single school in college hockey history. 

His induction into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame is the crowning jewel in an illustrious career that spanned four decades. He was joined by friend and former assistant coach Ben Smith, three-time Olympian and former Terrier Scott Young, legendary NHL coach Ron Wilson and longtime NHL linesman Kevin Collins.

“I was a basketball player from Somerville and now I’m in the Hockey Hall of Fame,” he said. “I was also excited to find out who I was going in with as well. It feels really good to be recognized with these people, that’s for sure.”

It was a sentiment echoed by Smith, who credits the nine years working on Parker’s staff as an instrumental part of his coaching career.

“I always say that between the two of them, the five years with Tim Taylor and nine years with Jack Parker, I always say that I got a masters at Yale and a doctorate at BU,” said Smith, who would earn notoriety as the head coach of the 1998 U.S. Women’s Olympic Team.

Their relationship goes back to their high school days when Parker was a standout at Catholic Memorial in West Roxbury and Smith starred at Gloucester high. They would continue their rivalry into their college years, first as players and then as up-and-coming coaches. 

“I got sick of losing to him so I finally had a chance to get onboard [with BU] and we’ve been close friends ever since,” Smith said.

Parker was more than a brilliant hockey mind and great tactical coach. He was also a great motivator who got the most of his players, from the blue chip recruit to the rare walk-on.

“Other than my father, he is the man who has had the greatest influence on my life,” said Ken Rausch, who was a member of the 1995 National Championship team and now works in the youth hockey department at USA Hockey. “He gave me a chance as a walk-on and also gave me my first coaching job. I would not be in the position I am today without him.”

Over the years Parker stayed true to his roots while navigating and adapting to the ever-changing world of college athletics.

“It was a simpler time for kids back then. They were playing college hockey and they were glad to be there,” Parker said. “Now [college hockey] it’s a stop over on the way to the NHL.”

Along the way Parker became a champion for both college hockey and the American player. While he had more than a few run ins with USA Hockey over the years, Parker answered his country’s call on several occasions, including the 1996 World Junior Championship and the 2013 Deutschland Cup.

“I don’t think I was ever more aggravated than when I heard Don Cherry say, ‘You’ll never win with college kids and Europeans,’” he said. “And I’m really happy that everybody is winning with college kids and Europeans. Just look what happened with Pittsburgh the last two years.”

In an era where coaches seldom last longer than tape on a stick blade, Parker was synonymous with developing great players, and even better people. That stability helped the Terriers develop a winning culture that remains the envy of the college hockey community.

“Over the course of 40 years, all those guys played for the same coach so it’s almost like they all played for the same team. That’s the reason why it’s been a little closer knit family than most,” he said. 


“I always tell people that I had two daughters and 243 sons. And when I retired I said that I’m not going to have any more kids.”

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