Boston University retires Jack Parker’s No. 6
|02.28.14 at 9:26 pm ET|
Jack Parker never liked the idea of retiring numbers. He wanted current players to be able to wear numbers that had been worn by great players in the past. Above each locker in the Boston University dressing room, there was always a list of the players that had worn that number in the past, so each player would know his number’s history.
The only number Parker ever agreed to retire was 24, the number Travis Roy wore for one shift on Oct. 20, 1995, before suffering a devastating injury that rendered him a quadriplegic.
So when Parker, who retired last March after 40 years as BU’s head coach, found out in the spring that the school wanted to retire his number, he had some mixed emotions.
“It’s going against my rule to have this done,” Parker quipped to the Agganis Arena crowd of 5,577 Friday night during a ceremony to retire his No. 6, which he wore as a BU player from 1965-68 as an homage to his favorite athlete, Bill Russell.
But as Parker noted in another one of his wisecrack one-liners, “The reality is we’re still going along with the same rule, because we’re not retiring my number because I was a great player.”
Nope. Parker’s number is now hanging from the Agganis rafters because of everything he did once he returned to his alma mater. As athletic director Mike Lynch pointed out, Parker has had a hand in every other banner that’s in the arena.
He was an assistant coach on the 1971 and 1972 national championship teams, and the head coach for three more national titles in 1978, 1995 and 2009. His teams won four ECAC championships, seven Hockey East titles and 21 Beanpots. He coached in 24 NCAA tournaments, more than anyone else in the history of the sport. He made it to the Frozen Four 13 times and won 897 games altogether, good for third all-time.
“I really think the reason I kept my job so long was because we had great players,” Parker said. “And the only reason we had great players is because we had so many great assistant coaches here, some of whom went on to be great coaches on their own.”
One of those assistants is Parker’s successor, David Quinn. His first year at the helm has been a struggle (the Terriers are 8-20-4 and currently sit in 10th place in Hockey East), but Parker, like many around college hockey, sees a bright future for the program thanks to the new coaching staff’s success on the recruiting trail.
“The program’s in good hands with David,” Parker said. “They have a great recruiting class next year, the next two years actually. I think the program will jump back from this season very quickly.”
Parker said the adjustment to the post-coaching life has been easier than he expected. He still works just down the hall from Quinn, as he helps with BU’s fundraising campaign. He said he talks to Quinn a couple times a week, but makes sure he doesn’t interfere with how the program is being run. And he still goes to a bunch of home games with his family.
Now when Parker and his grandchildren go to Agganis, they’ll be able to look up and see his number hanging next to Roy’s, which is a fitting place for it. Parker has always said that the worst moment during his time at BU was Roy’s injury, and the best moment was how the BU community embraced and supported Roy after his injury.
“I can’t tell you how much it means to get my number retired,” Parker said. “But it means that much more to have it next to Travis’ number.”