Docs OK Parker for Hockey Season Opener
Veteran coach had bypass surgery this summer
Much to the relief of Terrier Nation, longtime men’s ice hockey coach Jack Parker, who underwent heart bypass surgery in July, will stalk the bench at the 2010–11 season opener against Wisconsin in St. Louis, Mo., on Friday, October 8. Parker got the OK from his cardiologist on Wednesday.
“Everything has gone as planned,” says the 65-year-old Parker (SMG’68, Hon.’97), who is also executive director of athletics. “I’ve done exactly what the doctors have asked me to do. They told me step-by-step how I’d feel, and they’ve been correct so far.”
After feeling unusual pressure in his chest during a tennis game this summer, he went to see his doctor about a stent he had had inserted years earlier for a blockage. Tests revealed the problem had grown more serious, and doctors performed heart bypass surgery on July 23. After a two-week hospitalization, Parker returned home. He couldn’t drive for eight weeks, he says, or even sit in the front seat in case the airbag deployed and opened up his chest. “It was a pain in the neck for my wife,” he says with a laugh. For the past three weeks, the heralded BU coach has been undergoing cardiac rehab at Boston Medical Center, walking the treadmill and working the stair-climber. “I feel fine doing it—no problems whatsoever. So far, it’s been easy,” he says.
During Parker’s recuperation, associate head coach Mike Bavis (CAS’93) and the rest of the staff prepared the Terrier icemen for action. Parker has sat in on a few practices this fall and is involved in strategy and making line decisions, but doctors don’t want him taking the ice for several more weeks. Mike Lynch, a BU assistant vice president and director of athletics, says Parker’s return to full command is eagerly anticipated.
“He has been following doctor’s orders while getting back into the flow over the past month with all the off-ice preparations for this season,” Lynch says. “I know he is eager to get back to coaching full-time, especially with the young and talented team that we have this year.”
Parker’s tenure as head coach at BU extends back to 1973. He has since won more than 800 games, the first college hockey coach in NCAA history to reach that mark at one school. Over almost four decades at the helm, his teams have won more than 40 championships, including 3 NCAA Division 1 titles, 21 Beanpots, 7 Hockey East titles, and 4 consecutive ECAC titles. Parker has seen 19 of his players compete in the Olympics, including 4 members of the 1980 U.S. “Miracle on Ice” team that won the gold medal in Lake Placid. More than 40 of his players have gone on to the NHL. After winning the 2009 NCAA championship, BU finished last season with an overall record of 18-17-3 (13-12-2 in Hockey East).
This season, Parker will direct a decidedly young squad, comprising 17 freshmen and sophomores, several juniors, and just one regular senior skater and one senior goalie.
“The fans can expect enthusiasm,” Parker says. “Because we’re so young, we won’t have any experience. We have enough talent to be a very good team, but the lack of experience is going to show up early. By January and February that will be dissipated and by the end of the year, we should be a very good hockey team. That being said, it’s a very good league, and a tough league to compete in, so it will be interesting to see where we get to this year as far as league standings.”
Friday’s game against Wisconsin, in the annual Ice Breaker Tournament, should be an even contest.
“They lost guys to graduation and pro signings, just like BU,” Parker says. “They’re a young team. They’re almost in the exact same boat.”
Given his still-tender heart, will he be calm behind the bench?
“Oh, I won’t be calm,” Parker says, “but I don’t think my heart will have a problem.”
The BU men’s hockey team will face off against the University of Massachusetts in the home opener on Saturday, October 16, at 7 p.m., at Agganis Arena. Tickets can be purchased here.
Caleb Daniloff can be reached at email@example.com Comments