For years, one of the more entertaining college hockey discussions has been: Who will be the next coach at Boston University after Jack Parker? This conversation always has legs because — a) there was a time when Parker seemed closer to leaving (because of flirtations with the Boston Bruins, administrative jobs, etc…) … and b) because there are so many qualified candidates out there.
Parker wound up settling back in at BU, but, of course, he’s also getting older. Various candidates have come and gone since then, BU alumni and/or former Parker assistant coaches.
With today’s announcement that former BU All-American Joe Sacco has been named the new head coach of the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, that list just got bigger, and more interesting.
Names that used to lead the charge, have fallen off. Current Massachusetts head coach Don Cahoon, a BU player in the early ’70s, is not appreciably younger, relatively, than Parker at this point. Blaise McDonald, a former assistant, now head coach at Massachusetts-Lowell, has not distinguished himself, necessarily. Buddy Powers, former head coach at RPI and Bowling Green — same thing. Former assistant Brian Durocher now is head coach of BU’s women’s team, and seems ensconced there.
In the current sweepstakes lead, many consider it to be current top assistant David Quinn, a BU alum and one-time first round NHL pick. Though he is currently a candidate for Nebraska-Omaha’s opening. But he has the experience, and, perhaps, at 42, the right age.
Another lead name is BU alum Mike Sullivan, formerly head coach of the Boston Bruins. He didn’t take the amateur coaching route, like others did, but he had a long playing career, then went into coaching the AHL and quickly got the Bruins job, before losing it after a couple of years. This is akin to the route Ted Donato took at Harvard, although Donato had even less head coaching experience.
Which brings us to Sacco. Sacco also had a long playing career, a brief stint as an AHL head coach, and now the NHL.
BU may ultimately go with people who have stuck around the college game, which would keep Quinn at the forefront. But by being BU alums and NHL head coaches, Sullivan, and now Sacco, immediately thrust themselves into the discussion as well.