“I have great respect for Jack,’’ said Bertagna.
“[At the coaches meetings in Florida], someone with 40 years in the game, he could go to the beach if he wanted to but he would be front and center, standing up, getting engaged, and fighting for things. It wasn’t all about BU or Hockey East. He set a great example for younger coaches about how you have to do things beyond your own self interest. Jack has always been very active for the game. He’s been a very loyal guy to a lot of people.’’
Boston College coach Jerry York had to run his team’s practice and said he regretted he couldn’t attend the news conference.
“It caught me a little bit by surprise,’’ said York.
“We have had a personal relationship for 53 years, the last 40 years as professionals competing. It’s a unique relationship that has stood the test of time.
“He was Somerville, I was Watertown, there are a lot of similarities. We have different personalities but there are a lot of similar characteristics because of hockey. We’re going to miss him an awful lot.’’
No doubt York will be asked if he is next to step aside but he said he isn’t thinking about that.
“Every morning I wake up, I’m excited about coaching a hockey team at BC,’’ he said. “If I didn’t enjoy it, I wouldn’t do it. I really like what I do. I can’t ever imagine not doing it.’’
Current BU defenseman Garrett Noonan said Parker’s decision was difficult to swallow but he understands.
“I’m pretty surprised,’’ said Noonan, who is recovering from a shoulder injury and is hopeful to play again this year. “I’m definitely sad that it’s happened but I’m happy for Coach because now he gets to do things he probably hasn’t been able to do for a while.
“Forty years is a long time. I definitely thought he’d be back next year but I’m happy for him, he’s been unbelievable for me. He’s an unbelievable leader. He really does care about his players.’’
Noonan said he expects the Terriers to have even more motivation going against Merrimack.
“It’s been such an up-and-down year on the ice for us,’’ said Noonan. “It’s crazy to think this is the last time he’s going to coach us. Hopefully we go out winning it because no one wants to remember his last game as a loss.”
As for Parker’s successor, he said he will have a say, but not the final one.
Athletic director Mike Lynch said the search for a new coach will begin over the course of the next several weeks.
“This is a marquee job,’’ said Lynch. “It’s an enormously important position and it will be handled at the highest level of the university.’’
Until then, though, Parker will relish his time left with his favorite aspect of the job — his relationship with his team.
“It’s hard to walk away,’’ he said. “I would like see Danny O’Regan and see how good he’s going to be. We have a couple of incoming freshmen and I’d like to coach those guys.
“But there is always the next Danny O’Regan, there is always the next incoming freshman — sooner or later, you have to cut the ties. More than anything else, I had a great time with my players.’’
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at email@example.com.