Columnists, Ice Hockey, Sports

MAZUREK: End of the road has come for Parker

Any sports fan can attest to the fact that following a specific team is full of highs and lows. The same is certainly true for those who follow the Boston University men’s hockey team.

In 2009, I witnessed firsthand the greatest sports moment of my life. I can still remember as if it were yesterday – the final minutes of the third period against Miami University in the NCAA Championship game. Trailing 3-1, the blank stares and teary eyes of those students who made the trip to Washington D.C. said it all.

But then Zach Cohen scored with 59.5 seconds remaining giving the Dog Pound a glimpse of hope.

Then it happened.

As the seconds counted down, Hobey Baker-winner Matt Gilroy sent a beautiful pass to Nick Bonino whose goal ignited the Verizon Center and tied up the game with 13 seconds remaining.

Although the game was tied and my stomach was in knots, I knew in my heart there was no way we were losing this game, something I am pretty sure the Miami fans knew as well.

The rest is history, as Colby Cohen scored on a fluky, deflected goal that Miami goalie Cody Reichard never even saw.

That, BU, was my greatest sports moment and easily greatest moment during my tenure here.

Saturday night’s loss to the College of the Holy Cross, however, was one of the worst BU sports moments during my four years, a loss that I would call “embarrassing” and that BU head coach Jack Parker called “pathetic.”

What I am about to say might come as a shock to some of you, but please hear me out before you criticize my opinion.

At the end of this season, it is time for Jack Parker to step down as head coach.

Parker has been the best coach in the history of BU hockey. He has coached three national championship teams and is one of the most successful coaches in the history of collegiate hockey. He is a man who is a perfect icon of BU, as he represents hard work, tenacity and the desire to win.

I personally have the greatest respect for Parker, but I believe it is time for a change.

There is no argument that the BU men’s hockey team is full of talented players, as proven by our preseason No. 10 ranking and prediction to finish second in Hockey East. The team has exhibited such aforementioned talent against the University of New Hampshire and in two periods against the University of Denver.

The problem has been the inability to defeat the teams we are supposed to defeat, i.e. the Providence Colleges and Holy Crosses of the world.

Simply put, BU plays up or down to our opponent.

The problem at hand is motivation.

The players can motivate themselves when they are facing a nationally-ranked opponent such as UNH or Denver; however, if BU is facing a team without a number in front of its name, that motivation disappears.

It is the job of Coach Parker to motivate his team, no matter the opponent, and quite frankly he is not doing a good job.

The problem might be in recruiting. Many BU players have already been drafted by an NHL team and their attention might be more on a professional career than winning in college.

Again, it is the job of Coach Parker to make sure this does not happen. Parker has to recruit student-athletes whose attention is on the success of the team, not their individual career.

I understand that collegiate hockey is a stepping-stone for the NHL. However, there are plenty of college programs that recruit players who stay for four years and play as teams, instead of a group of talented individuals. Just look at Boston College.

I can understand to some extent why BU looked sluggish in the first period against Providence, as they arrived to the arena late due to traffic. However, I was not a fan of Parker’s decision to not show video at the team meeting the day before the game.

Here was Parker’s rationale for not having a traditional meeting: “We know absolutely nothing about Providence because [Leaman is] a new coach and they haven’t played a game yet, [so BU has no game video],” Parker said. “We have no idea how good they’re going to be.”

I find it bewildering that a coach in his 39th season would not have a typical meeting with his team to discuss its next opponent. Parker could have watched film from Providence last year, even under an old coach, or he could have watched highlights of Union College, where Nate Leaman previously coached.

If the Terriers begin to fly right and have a successful year (definitions of which vary), then I am willing to come back to this subject.

But if BU fails to make the NCAA tournament for the third year in a row, a change must take place.

Parker, a die-hard Red Sox fan, knows well that after three strikes you are out. For him, it may be time to call it a career.


  1. Should be noted that Providence has two wins and UNH hasn’t won a single game this year…Providence also tied the defending national champions this past weekend. So should Minnesota-Duluth now fire their coach?

    Holy Cross played their “Super Bowl” against BU on Saturday night so BU couldn’t match the intensity and probably overlooked the Crusaders who beat Minnesota a few years ago in the NCAA Tournament.

  2. A coach is responsible for motivation … to a certain degree. If these guys can’t motivate themselves to get up and play division one hockey for one of the best programs in the country, I’m sorry. They don’t deserve it. They’re not children.

    I’m biased toward Parker, but I honestly don’t think BU’s problems would necessarily dissolve with a coaching change. Parker has been with this team for 39 years. Maybe there is fatigue there. But I don’t think he’s worth tossing yet. What he brings to the program on and off the ice is pretty special. He’s working with a very young team right now. Perhaps my expectations are low because of that & I’m pleasantly surprised. Maybe this is a sign I’ve been watching developmental hockey for too long?? (eek)

  3. Clearly you don’t have enough perspctive to write about this issue. You can’t possibly speak knowledgeably about whether Jack Parker should resign after a mere four years of watching BU hockey. All good coaches have their good and bad seasons. All good coaches have good and bad teams. Look around, there is clearly no single expiration date for an individual coach (look for example to the coach at Chestnut Hill Community College who you reference – he’s been there about as long as Coach Parker).

    And if you think that Coach Parker doesn’t know how to motiviate student athletes, you’ve never been near enough to the bench to hear him directing traffic during a game. Ask around, pretty much everyone of his current and former players would step in front of a bus for the guy. They play their guts out. Does that mean there won’t be a clunker every now and again? Of course not. Show me a team that plays perfect every minute of every game, and I’ll advise you to wake up because you are dreaming.

    As for blaming a lackluster performance on pro prospects, take a look at how many BU players make it to the pros and stay there. More kids every year wind up in the lower tier US leagues or playing abroad than play in the NHL every night. Most of them have no illusions of grandeur. Just because someone is drafted, that hardly means their life is set (I’d recommend you speak to former Terriers Jeff Kealty and Chris Bourque, both of whom were drafted and haven’t had sterling careers to show for it).

    Parker is still a relevant coach and he still gets the job done. Stop looking for instant gratification and see the bigger picture. How many Beanpot titles? How many Hockey East regular season titles? Three NCAA titles may not seem that much to you, but I’d bet half of Hockey East would consider themselves lucky to have one.

    • Jerry Jerry Jerry

      I don’t know how you can claim that Jerry York has been at BC “about as long as Coach Parker”

      Parker was hired by BU in 1973.
      York was hired by BC in 1994.

      • Yeah, BC is the community college yet you can’t even check out Wikipedia to see that York has been at BC 21 years less than Parker has been at BU. That’s rich.

        Also, I hate Jack Parker for the whiny theatrics he brings to, oh, every game. And he’s no Jerry York. But he’s one of the best coaches in hockey and by no means is it time for him to step down.

  4. Poorly written article, but your overall premise is spot on.

  5. I think it’s an interesting and bold suggestion. The team looked sluggish last year, and it seemed to me like they played to their abilities paper ranking. At its best, the play was inconsistent last season, with only flashes of the talent showing off.

    @DrunkMe: Your blanket, anonymous criticism of the merits of the author’s writing lacks specificity. With all due respect, your criticism comes across as lazy.

  6. The article is right on target.

    Time for Jacky to hit the golf course permanently.

  7. Jack parker is a legend not just in name but because he earned it. Every player should consider himself lucky to be coached by jack parker and Buddy powers. Years of experience benefits these players. It’s easy to blame the coach when a team loses but losing is part of development. be happy that BU has a quality development program for fans to enjoy and realize that Coach parker and Coach powers are key reasons why the BU program has been so successful both in the past and will continue to be in the future.

    Time to quit whining and enjoy the ride!

  8. My God, man. The hat. The hat. Total fail.

  9. This article wouldn’t have been written if not for the loss to Holy Cross. Consequently, the article comes off as an emotional, knee-jerk reaction from a young, mediocre writer.

    You should not have been allowed to write this four games into the season.

  10. These problems have been ongoing for some time. Off ice drinking was a problem for many years and one has to wonder if this is now a problem. I have been a follower from 1965 and bleed for this team. Jack parker has been one of the greatest coaches of all time. However, every time he wins a championship one or more assistant coaches goes the next year. Why is this.? B.C. keeps it’s coaches forever, it seems. Parker’s great weakness has been selecting coaches who can recruit. He refuses to get rid of Powers and Bavis who are not doing the job. I have sat close to the bench on selected dates for the past few years. There is no energy there and line changes are very poor at times when Bavis in there. Bavis and Powers are good men and were two of my favorites so it is hard to talk about them this way. The way B.C. has overtaken us in hockey is hard to take. Time to find a new coach and assistants.

  11. Parker must go. It’s been a great ride.
    but he has lost it. BC has overtaken BU. Jack does not have the energy to fight anymore.

  12. Jack Parker coaches this team until Jack Parker decides to no longer coach this team. Like Joe Paterno, he has earned this right. He has kept this team on the map.

    One loss in October does not a season or career make.