Jerry York has received more than his share of honors, but on Tuesday the longtime Boston College men’s coach received the sport’s highest honor when he was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
York was elected under the “Builders’’ category. According to the Hockey Hall of Fame’s website, candidates to be considered demonstrate a “coaching, managerial or executive ability, or ability in another significant off-ice role, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to his or her organization or organizations and to the game of hockey in general.’’
The announcement caught York, a Watertown native who is entering his 26th season as coach of the Eagles, off-guard.
“I was really taken back by it,’’ he said. “It never crossed my mind. I thought they were calling me about a player.’’
— Hockey Hall of Fame (@HockeyHallFame) June 25, 2019
York is college hockey’s all-time winningest coach with 1,067 victories. BC has won four national championships under York, including three in a five-year stretch from 2008–12. He has led the Eagles to 12 Frozen Fours and is the all-time leader in NCAA Tournament victories with 41. He collected his fourth Hockey East Coach of the Year award after the 2017-18 season.
“Coaching a team, you chase trophies,’’ said York. “Nothing equals winning a national championship. That’s what my staff, myself, and my players strive for. This is more a personal accolade. I appreciate it, and I’m excited by it, but I love the coaching part of taking a team and molding it, trying to chase those trophies, so it’s a completely different feeling. It’s a milestone that I’m very, very proud of.’’
York thinks some of his fellow NCAA coaches are worthy of a call from the Hall.
The late Bob Johnson (Wisconsin) and Herb Brooks (Minnesota) have been inducted, but they coached in the NHL, as well.
“Ron Mason at Michigan State, Red Berenson at Michigan, Jack Parker at BU,’’ said York. “Those are the three that I kind of butted heads with for a lot of years. They’re certainly going to be deserving.’’
The induction ceremony will be held at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto on Nov. 18. BC has a pair of games at Vermont on Nov. 15-16, then York can proceed to Toronto. Just don’t expect him to suit up for the Legends game.
“They started talking about if I wanted to play in the Legends game,’’ said York, who will be 74 by the time the ceremony rolls around. “I said, ‘I think I’ll coach it.’ ’’
Entering last season, York had led the Eagles to at least a share of three straight Hockey East regular-season titles in addition to nine straight 20-win seasons.
In February, BC announced that it had signed York to a contract extension through the 2021-22 season. He will be 76 at the end of the deal.
York began his NCAA coaching career at Clarkson University in 1972, moving to Bowling Green in 1979. In 15 years at Bowling Green his teams earned six NCAA Tournament berths, winning the title in 1984.
Also being inducted is Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford. He has previously been a GM for 20 years for the Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes, winning a Stanley Cup with Carolina in 2006.
Four players will be included in the 2019 class, Guy Carbonneau played 13 seasons with the Montreal Canadiens, winning the Selke Award as the NHL’s top defensive forward three times – in addition to Stanley Cups in 1986 and 1993, as well as another in 1999 with the Dallas Stars.
Vaclav Nedomansky played 12 seasons in Bratislava before becoming the first athlete from an Eastern European communist country to defect to North America to pursue a professional hockey career. He starred in the WHA with the Toronto Toros and Birmingham Bulls before joining the Detroit Red Wings as a 33-year-old rookie in 1977.
Hayley Wickenheiser has played professionally in both men’s and women’s hockey, won seven Women’s World Championship gold medals, as well as four Olympic gold medals in 21 seasons as a member of Canada’s national team.
Sergei Zubov joined the New York Rangers in 1992 after playing four seasons with the Moscow Red Army. A member of the Rangers’ 1994 Stanley Cup team, he also played 12 seasons with the Dallas Stars, winning a second Stanley Cup in 1999.