Coaching Icons Ready To Enter Hall Together

WHEN JACK PARKER FIRST GOT THE NEWS that he was being inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, he was asked not to tell anybody. Obviously, the legendary Boston University coach told his wife, Jacqueline. He also decided that he needed to share the news with Ben Smith, one of his oldest and closest friends in hockey. 

"I called Ben and said, 'I just want to tell you that I received a call from USA Hockey. I'm being inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame and it never would have happened if it wasn't for you. You kept me in the good graces of USA Hockey all these years and you obviously did a great job as my assistant. So, I really want to thank you, Ben.'"

Then it was time for Smith to share some news of his own.

"I'm getting inducted the same day, Jack," Smith said. "And if it wasn't for you hiring me at BU maybe I wouldn't have gotten in."

It is only fitting that the two Massachusetts natives would be part of the Class of 2017 that will be inducted on Dec. 13 in Boston. They will be joined by fellow Bay Staters Kevin Collins and Scott Young, along with Ron Wilson, who hails from nearby Rhode Island.

By the time Parker retired in 2013, he had coached his alma mater in 1,484 games, winning 897 of them, including three national championships, 11 conference titles and 21 Beanpot Tournament crowns. He also helped develop a lengthy list of NHL players and 24 Olympians, including Jim Craig and Mike Eruzione, who played starring roles with the 1980 U.S. Olympic Team. 

For his part, Smith spent most of his coaching career working with men's teams in both the international and college ranks, including nine years as Parker's assistant at BU. As a change of course, Smith was tabbed to serve as head coach of the U.S. Olympic Women's Team, leading the way to the first gold medal in women's hockey at the 1998 Olympic Winter Games. He would also coach the squad to silver in 2002 and bronze in 2006.

"You never think about something like this when you're a 12-year-old kid out on the pond," said Smith, who continues to serve in a player evaluation role for many international teams, including the gold medal-winning 2017 U.S. National Junior Team. "We have a passion that is probably similar to the other 172 inductees [enshrined in the Hall]. That's the great thing about the game. It's in your blood, and it's been in my blood for over 60 years."




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