In a gala that included a silent auction and a roast by former players and friends — as well as the beginning of a new Terrier Pride scholarship awarded to sophomore Peter MacArthur — Boston University dedicated Jack Parker Rink at Agganis Arena Thursday.
Attendees enjoyed the opportunity to bid on numerous silent auction specialties, including jerseys and uniforms worn by Joe Thornton and Tim Wakefield as well as memorabilia from the 1980 U.S. Olympic team.
However, the highlight of the evening was the tribute/roast, held on a stage made up to look like a corner of the Terrier locker room, complete with stalls featuring the jerseys of current Terriers Jekabs Redlihs, Dan Spang, Brad Zancanaro, David Van der Gulik, and John Laliberte.
Sean McDonough kicked off the speeches with several good lines. After noting that he’s known Parker for over 20 years, McDonough noted, “At first I confess I found him intimidating, but that went away about three years ago.”
After comedian Denis Leary regaled the crowd with many profanity-laced anecdotes, McDonough commented, “It’s special that Denis tailored his remarks to a language that Jack is comfortable with.
BU athletic director Mike Lynch announced that $1.1 million has been raised for the Terrier Pride Scholarship, which was awarded to forward Peter MacArthur.
Introducing a video in tribute to Parker, Travis Roy lightly alluded to his paralysis during his first game as a Terrier, saying “I know that this is a roast, but I still have four years of eligibility left, so I’m going to try to stay on Coach’s good side.”
On a more emotional note, Roy added, “I’ve shed some tears, and he’s been there to dry them for me … For a couple of weeks, I’m grateful that I was able to lace up my skates and be a part of BU hockey.”
“We all have our difficult times in life,” assistant coach Mike Bavis said in the subsequent video. “When people at BU do, Coach is there.”
After the video, former Terriers and Olympians Dave Silk and Jack O’Callahan began the roast of Parker, alluding to his toying with the head-coaching job of the Boston Bruins. “Whenever Jack wanted a bigger boat, he’d just go to a couple of Bruins’ practices. After five or ten Bruins’ practices, they’d double his salary.”
BU alum and UMass coach Don “Toot” Cahoon followed. “Jack confided in me that he was miffed that BC named a rink after Snooks Kelley after just 500 wins, and what did he have to show after 700 wins? Nothing. I told him, ‘Maybe it’s just another situation where Boston University is holding itself to a higher standard than Boston College.’
After Harvard legend Don Cleary spoke, comedian Steve Sweeney got some of the biggest laughs of the night. “So you’ve been here 40 years … . What a rut!”
Parker reflected on the dedication. “It’s quite an honor to have my name on this rink,” he said. “John Hancock and Harry Agganis are pretty famous names in Boston, so to have my names associated with theirs and with Boston University is something that my family and I are really proud of. There must be 200 of my former players here, which is great.”
As for being roasted, Parker commented, “That’s okay. I get the last word.”
Indeed he did. As soon as he got up, Parker noted that “Steve Sweeney is proof positive that you can quit drinking and not get any better.” For good measure, he added that “I didn’t know that Bill Cleary was still alive.” As for Silk, Parker reflected that “I think that he may have graduated high school while he was at BU.”
It was an entertaining evening that should prove to be a good appetizer for the hockey season soon to come. Unfortunately for the Terriers, they may be without last year’s leading scorer, David Van der Gulik, for a significant portion of the season. Suffering from a condition called osteitis pubis, an inflammation of the pubic bone that should sideline him until January at the very least. “You’ve got to get over those things,” Parker said. “It’s a tough league.”
The Terriers host the University of Toronto in an exhibition game on Friday night.