By almost any measure, Jerry York has had a remarkable career as a college hockey coach.
The winningest coach in college hockey history, York is in his 50th season as a Division I coach. In recognition of his achievements, he will be inducted with the class of 2020 into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame on Dec. 9.
York is in his 28th season as head men’s hockey coach at his alma mater, Boston College. He has guided the Eagles to four NCAA championships.
York’s teams also own 11 Hockey East regular season titles and nine Hockey East Tournament titles. He has coached two Hobey Baker Award winners and 18 NHL first-round draft picks.
York had previously served as the head coach at Clarkson University and Bowling Green State University. He won the 1984 NCAA title at Bowling Green.
York had an exceptional playing career at Boston College. He led BC to the 1965 Beanpot title and an NCAA runner-up finish. In his final campaign as team captain, York helped the Eagles to a 19-8 record and earned All-American First Team laurels.
Among his many honors, York was enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2019. He is the only coach in NCAA hockey history to win 1,000 or more games and one of just three coaches in NCAA history to lead two different schools to NCAA titles.
Ahead of his USHHOF induction, York took time for a Q&A session with USAHockey.com.
USAHockey.com: What does it mean to you to hear, “Jerry York, U.S. Hockey Hall of Famer”?
Jerry York: Whether it’s a high school hall of fame or college or National Hockey League or USA Hockey, it sets you back. I feel very privileged to join these types of halls. Very thankful for the assistant coaches, players I’ve had over all these years. Very, very humbled and honored. I know people use that expression a lot, but that’s what it does to you.
USAH: Who are some of the biggest influences in your career?
JY: I go back to my high school coach, a Jesuit, Father Pollard. Never put skates on but the influence he had on a 16-, 17-year-old high school kid was phenomenal. His idea about teams and being a good teammate, that really jumps at me. Any coach that I’ve been involved with. Coach [John] Kelley at Boston College. A bigger stage, how to handle rivals and a demanding college hockey schedule. What he brought every day to practice was kind of an indelible mark on you. It’s more your coaches that you kind of grow up with. They kind of set a standard. They were terrific role models for me.
USAH: Why did you want to get into coaching?
JY: You know, I’m not quite sure. I just enjoyed the game so much, playing it. I did not want to be a referee. I tried that after college, and I knew I wasn’t going to play at the next level, the NHL, so to stay in the game, coaching gave me an opportunity. I went up to Clarkson as an assistant coach when I was 24.
USAH: How special is it for you to coach Boston College after having a successful career there as a player?
JY: I’ve enjoyed coaching at all levels. I helped out the high school program early. At Clarkson and Bowling Green and at BC you’ve got to guide [players] and coach them, so much more than the X’s and O’s at all three sites. Not many of us get the chance to coach at the Division I level, 50-odd schools. But you’re coaching your alma mater, that’s certainly something I appreciate very, very much.
USAH: What in your career have you been most proud of?
JY: Handle the ups and downs, not being fired. Fifty years, and you’re not experiencing all winning streaks. You have some downs, some ups. You have to handle relationships with athletic directors, with college presidents, with alumni. Getting the chance to right the ship when things go bad. And been a survivor of this world of college hockey. Certainly, I look back on that very fondly. And also, I think watching our players mature at all different stops from basically 18-year-old guys to now successful businessmen, lawyers, family men, good dads. It’s kind of neat to look at that.
USAH: You’re the winningest coach in college hockey history. What do you think has been the key to your success?
JY: Longevity. I’ve coached the longest. You’re going to get a lot of wins. But I think, some terrific players. I look back at coaching Dave Taylor at Clarkson, Rob Blake at Bowling Green, Johnny Gaudreau here at BC. There’s a whole handful of players. Those are just three that jump at me from these three different schools. You need good players, let’s be honest. You need not just good players. You need some outstanding players, and we’ve had those at all the places I’ve been. That coupled with great assistant coaches and administrations at all three schools that thought it was important to have a successful hockey program. They all came together to keep you from being fired and keeping you in the business a long time.
USAH: What continues to drive you to go to the rink every day?
JY: I enjoy working with this age group. I really do. I look forward to it. There’s not one day that I’ve left Watertown and driven the three miles into BC that I thought, ‘Gee, I’ve gotta go to work today.’ That’s kind of great. You’ve got to enjoy what you do. I really enjoy coming to work and putting skates on and trying to get better as a team. I love the concept of bringing a lot of people together with one common pursuit. There’s a lot of things going on in the lives of 18- to 22-year-old kids. I think that’s important to be a good teammate. We stress that a lot more than power plays and penalty kills.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.