Receiving all the pomp and circumstance due to him, legendary Boston College player and head coach Len Ceglarski’s jersey was raised to the Conte Forum rafters Friday night in a ceremony between periods of the Boston College-Boston University game.
BC’s all-time winningest coach was treated to a five-minute pictorial tribute on the BC JumboTron before being presented a framed replica of the jersey by Boston College athletic director Gene DeFilippo.
“There are just so many great memories,” said a wide-grinned Ceglarski in an interview during BC’s 5-1 victory over BU on Friday. “It’s hard to tell you how much BC has done for me, my wife and my family. It really was a great thrill for me to come back tonight.”
Ceglarski was a three-year letter winner in both baseball and hockey for Boston College, having been part of a legendary baseball double play combo with ex-Boston Red Sox manager Joe Morgan.
His standout hockey career at Boston College included the 1949 NCAA Championship in which Ceglarski scored a goal to put BC up 3-2 in an eventual 4-3 victory over Dartmouth. His squad would once again advance to the NCAA tournament the following year, 1950, where they’d fall in the semi-finals to Colorado College, and Ceglarski would go on to captain the 1950-51 team.
After leaving BC, Ceglarski was part of the well-known 1952 U.S. Olympic team that captured the silver medal, before beginning a legendary college hockey coaching career.
That career, which began at Clarkson and ended at his alma mater, BC, included 673 victories with Ceglarski retiring as college hockey’s all-time winningest coach (he has since been passed and now ranks No. 5 on the all-time list.)
After a 14-year career coaching at Clarkson that included three trips to the NCAA Championship game, Ceglarski arrived at the Heights in 1972 to follow in the footsteps of his own and legendary BC coach John ‘Snooks’ Kelley. His arrival at the Heights began a Golden Era of Boston College hockey that included nine NCAA tournament appearances, two Hockey East championships, and only three losing seasons.
Ceglarski coached Joe Mullen in 1979, who would go on to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2000, and Hobey Baker Award winner David Emma in 1991.
In 1990, Ceglarski received the Lester Patrick Award from the National Hockey League for his contributions to the game of hockey and over his college coaching career was a three-time recipient (1966 at Clarkson and 1973 and 1985 at BC) of the Spencer Penrose Award given annually to the coach of the year in college hockey.
“He gave me great guidance early in my career,” said current Boston College head coach Jerry York, who served as an assistant under Ceglarski at Clarkson before taking over the reigns at BC three seasons after Len’s retirement. “He was a great coach and was even underestimated as a player.”
As far as memories Ceglraski has plenty, particular from his days behind the bench for the maroon and gold.
“If I named off memories, I’d have to give you 200,” said Ceglarski when asked to remember his best memories of his years at the Heights. “I remember Brian Leetch his first year, or Joey Mullen. I remember Billy Guerin and could tell you great stories about all of those kids.
“But that’s the great part about coaching. I still get a call every Christmas from my first captain at Clarkson University, and Richie Smith, my first recruit [at BC] he comes to games with me all the time. That’s really the fun part of all of this.”
And now, Ceglarski can enjoy that “fun” knowing his name is forever etched into Boston College hockey history.