Jerry York’s already unparalleled resume recently got an unexpected boost.
The bench boss of the Boston College Eagles is already the all-time winningest head coach in college hockey history with an incredible 1,067 victories, is one of only three men to lead two programs to a national championship—four of those have come with the Eagles—and nobody has more NCAA Tournament wins (39) than he does.
It seemed inevitable that, one day, the Hockey Hall of Fame would come calling.
Inevitable to most but York himself, it seems. The soon-to-be 74-year-old was enjoying a typical day in the offseason, chatting with assistant coach Brendan Buckley about recruiting, when his cell phone simply wouldn’t stop ringing with someone with an unlisted number on the other end.
“I’m thinking it was another robo-call, so I let it ring three different times,” York told FloHockey.
“Brendan said, ‘Would you just answer that thing, it’s driving me nuts,’ so I took the call, and it was [current New York Rangers president and Hall of Fame selection committee member John Davidson], so I thought they’d traded for one of my players, which is common. But he said, ‘No, no, Jerry. We’ve got Lanny [McDonald] on the phone here too, and we want to talk to you about the Hall of Fame.’ I was very surprised.”
York will be inducted as in the “builder” category alongside Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford and a class that also includes Hayley Wickenheiser, Guy Carbonneau, Sergei Zubov, and Vaclav Nedomansky.
But, despite his accomplishments and his status as an icon in college hockey, it’s company that the humble head coach never thought he’d one day get to join.
“It’s something that college coaches in the U.S., we never chat about that,” York said.
“There are different things that come up, but the Hall of Fame is just, from my perspective from talking to other coaches, something we never thought of. Herb Brooks, Bob Johnson, Lou Lamoriello, they were college coaches, but they made that step to the pros, so they had that path to the Hall of Fame. Herb had his time with the Olympics and the Rangers, Bob won Stanley Cups and Lou won Stanley Cups. I suppose the players think about [the Hall of Fame]. Especially with baseball or hockey, it’s ‘I was passed over last year, can I get in this year?’ They know the date and they know everything about it, but I’d never thought about it.”
Now two weeks removed from the late-June announcement, York has finally had some time to wrap his head around how much being inducted into hockey’s most hallowed grounds on Yonge Street in Toronto will mean to him.
“I’ve looked at the list of builders and former players, and I’ve read the history on it, and this is just an unbelievable honor,” York said. “I’m so excited and grateful to the committee to have put me in that type of company.”
Always a gentleman, York also made it a point to suggest that he’s hopeful his induction might open the doors for other deserving, legendary college hockey head coaches; namely Ron Mason, Red Berenson, and long-time counterpart at Boston University, Jack Parker.
“Guys of that ilk, maybe they’ll be considered at some point, and we can break the barrier for strictly college coaches [getting inducted],” York said.
Competitive as Hockey East is, York has received nothing but congratulatory messages from his fellow coaches in the conference.
“They all think it’s great for college hockey,” he said. “There’s that certain bond—whether it’s Colorado, North Dakota, or suburban Boston—where I think we take great pride in.”