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Jerry York’s name isn’t etched on the Stanley Cup, but those of eight of his former players sure are.
And be prepared to scroll down for a very long time on the computer for the exhaustive list of York’s NHL grads — from first-round picks, trophy winners and NCAA stars to the rank and file, or those who transitioned to management or coaching. Many more people you’ll never hear about who passed through Boston College, Bowling Green and Clarkson went on to make an impact in hockey or as 9-to-5 family men.
With his induction to the Hall of Fame builder’s wing, the most successful coach in U.S. college history will be the big man on campus himself. But, typically, he didn’t see the honour coming when the Hall’s selection committee called in June.
When the 416 area code from Toronto kept displaying on his cellphone, he thought it was a marketing robocall and ignored it. When Hall chairman John Davidson finally reached him, York feared it was in his day job as president of the New York Rangers and had traded a BC draft pick.
The only Hall-advocating York did was for one of his first recruits, Dave Taylor, who had 1,000 games and points in the NHL and had the coach in his corner.
“Never once did I think that I’d go into any category whatsoever,” York said.
But the texts and the accolades quickly flooded Beantown, starting with one of his recent grads, Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames, a 2014 Hobey Baker Award winner.
“He was a great coach who got me acclimated for another level of my game,” Gaudreau told the Sun . “It’s hard to find a player he didn’t help.”
Gaudreau and his younger brother Matt were New Jersey natives, who both had a lot of schools to pick from.
“I think we scheduled five hours with my parents to meet Jerry (during recruitment), but after my first hour, I knew I wanted to play for him,” Johnny said. “We’d have dinner at his house with his family, our whole team went over there and cooked steaks. That was really nice compared to eating at a dorm all the time.
“He just looked out for his players. He’d be very interested how you’d spent your time, asking, ‘What’d you do Sunday and Monday? How are your classes going’? He was so passionate about his players and when you’re young and live six or seven hours from home, that means a lot and makes you better on the ice.”
York was the eighth of 10 children, born in Watertown, Mass., as World War II was ending.
“My father was certainly not a helicopter parent, he just kind of let us play,” York said. “I wanted to be shortstop for the Red Sox, that was my dream, but I liked all sports, that’s for sure.”
York gravitated to hockey, growing up a long-suffering Bruin fan. But just as the All-American player graduated from BC among its greatest players, Bobby Orr arrived and changed the New England hockey culture. York would often say that the Bruins’ success would help schools lure top players to the Boston area for years after.
“My very first recruit, when I started in the early ’70s at Clarkson was Taylor. With Bowling Green, there was George McPhee (now running the Vegas Golden Knights) and Rob Blake. Recently at BC, we’ve had Brian Gionta, Brooks Orpik, Marty Reasoner, Gaudreau (and Flames teammate Noah Hanifin) … a host of them. They seem to make you a better coach, when you have those players.”
Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock, who got his start in Canadian college hockey, was elated to see York inducted.
“All those years behind the bench, that’s spectacular,” Babcock said. “You think of the many people whose lives he has touched. He’s done a good job for hockey in the Boston area and that’s where my son played (Michael, at Merrimack).
“It’s got to be a proud moment for a man who put in a ton of time. It reminded me of Red Berenson and those guys who were major factors. No different than Scotty Bowman in that way, life-long learners of the game, real thinkers.”
THE FILE ON JERRY YORK
Born: Watertown, Mass.
Position: Coach, Boston College
Did you know? Played at Boston College, 1963-67, All-American graduated in business administration … Has won more games than any NCAA coach — 1,067 at the start of this season … Also coached at Clarkson (1972-79) and Bowling Green (‘79-94) … Five national titles, the last at BC in 2012 … Won the NHL’s 2010 Lester Patrick Trophy … Coached 15 NHL first round picks, including top Noah Hanifin, Patrick Eaves, Brian Boyle, Brooks Orpik and Marty Reasoner, eight Stanley Cup winners, two future GMs (Brian MacLellan and George McPhee) and one current coach (Todd Reirden).
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019