Pandolfo: Jack Parker 'was like a father figure' to BU players

Pandolfo: Jack Parker 'was like a father figure' to BU players
March 11, 2013, 2:00 pm
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KANATA, ON –- Jay Pandolfo was one of the best hockey players to ever don the Scarlet and White sweater on the Boston University campus. So it’s no surprise that retiring BU hockey coach Jack Parker was a large influence on his life and career. Pandolfo won an NCAA National title in 1995 while a member of the Terriers program and was a Hobey Baker finalist in his senior season while potting 39 goals.

Amazingly, he’s still trucking in the NHL with the Bruins as an extra forward 18 years later, but Pandolfo knew eventually the legendary BU coach would have to step down after 40 years of greatness on Commonwealth Avenue. Parker will announce at a Monday afternoon press conference that he’s retiring at the end of the current college hockey season.

Sources indicated to that Parker was actually planning to retire at the end of last season, but stayed on following a series of off-ice issues from several bad apples on the team that plagued the BU hockey program. Parker wanted to see those issues dealt with properly before he sailed off into the hockey sunset as he turns 68 years old.

“I’m not totally surprised,” said Pandolfo. “He’s been there 40 years. I figured that he was going to retire sometime soon. Forty years at BU is amazing. It’s probably a good time for him to move on.”

Parker leaves a BU hockey legacy that produced 894 careers wins at BU, seven Hockey East titles and 21 Beanpot championships to go along with three national championships.

He also leaves a more important influence: He trained generations of Boston hockey players on the ice, and off the ice he helped turns boys like Pandolfo into men by the time they left the Terriers program.

“He was unreal to me. It was four of the best years of my life playing at BU. He taught me a lot about what it takes to play at the next level and how to be a good person,” said Pandolfo. “He wasn’t only a coach. He was more like a father figure to a lot of the guys. He’s going to be missed. It will be a huge, huge change trying to replace him.”

When asked if there was one story the former Burlington High superstar relayed to friends about what it was like to play for the legendary dean of Boston hockey, Parker the disciplinarian came to mind.

“He got everything out of every player that played there,” said Pandolfo. “He let guys play, but if they needed to be taught a lesson then he was there to teach them how to play the right way. Or act the right [way] off the ice as a person."

“One thing I always remember [about Parker] is that if he saw you did something wrong on the ice he would pull you down the tunnel. Usually, he would grab by the face mask or the jersey. Pretty much everybody that played there went through that, and went through that experience with him. People would laugh about it afterward, but it wasn’t too fun during it. You never wanted to get dragged down into the tunnel.”

While incidents in recent years have caused some to question that discipline which Parker was famous for, there were always teaching moments for the BU head coach and his staff while handing out lessons on hockey and life to a group of talented 18-22 year old men. Unfortunately, this season will be the last for Parker and Boston University, but hockey players like Pandolfo will continue the 40-year legacy created on Commonwealth Avenue.