On Saturday night, the Jack Parker era ended at Boston University.
On Tuesday morning, the David Quinn era began when he was named the 11th men’s hockey coach.
The signs were all there for Quinn before Parker announced his retirement after 40 years, even though he didn’t quite recognize them at the time.
About three weeks ago, Quinn (an assistant coach with the Colorado Avalanche) saw former Boston University standout Colin Wilson when the Nashville Predators arrived in town.
Two nights later, the Blues were in Denver along with former BU star Kevin Shattenkirk. Two days later, the Avalanche traveled to Anaheim and former BU forward Nick Bonino was waiting to say hello to him as the team bus pulled up.
“When you build those relationships, you don’t get that at the pro level [and] it really reminded me of what college hockey is all about and I missed it,’’ said Quinn, 46. “When you win a national championship together, there is that bond you’ll always have. To see those three guys in that small stretch, back to back, was ironic looking back at it.’’
Quinn brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the position. Known as a savvy and dynamic recruiter, he served as Parker’s associate coach from 2004-09. BU won the NCAA title in his final season. He moved on to Lake Erie in the American Hockey League for three seasons before joining the Avalanche staff.
“There are a lot of emotions going through my mind,’’ said Quinn, who was contacted by BU athletic director Mike Lynch the day after Parker retired, and met with him in Chicago last week. “I’m thinking about my mother [Janice] in Cranston, R.I., probably watching on the Internet and still crying and excited that I’m coming home. I’m thinking about my father [Bill], who is in heaven who is probably proud as a peacock. But if he was here, he’d probably say, ‘What’d you hire him for? You could’ve done better than that.’
“The day I met with BU was the three-year anniversary of his death, so he must have been pulling some strings. It’s just been an incredibly last two weeks. This is without question my dream job.’’
Quinn said as much as he enjoyed his stint with Lake Erie and learned a great deal since transitioning from college to the pros, it was a no-brainer he would want the first BU head coaching vacancy in 40 years.
“One of the things that struck me the last four years coaching pro hockey how much I actually missed the college coaching experience,’’ said Quinn. “There’s a lot more to this job than what goes on from 3-5 Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and what [goes on] from 7-9 on Friday and Saturday nights. If it were just about winning and losing, I would’ve stayed in pro hockey. But I know from my life experiences, when I went through some difficult times, the most influential people in my life were my coaches, starting with Jack. The draw to come back to Boston University was very appealing to me. It’s something I’m looking forward to. I can’t explain to you how excited I am, how happy I am, how proud I am to continue the legacy that Jack has built over the last 40 years.’’
Quinn said he and Parker have remained close over the years.
“In 1986, when I was diagnosed with hemophilia and I had to quit playing, it was a pretty difficult time for me,’’ said Quinn. “When you’re 20 years old and a first-round draft pick and you think you’re going to play 15 years in the NHL, all of a sudden your life gets railroaded and it’s a very difficult time. The support I got from Jack, I can’t put into words and it’s probably the reason I am into coaching today. He’s much more than a hockey coach to me.’’
Quinn, who will stay with Avalanche through the end of the NHL season, said he will speak to assistants Buddy Powers and Mike Bavis about their roles, stressing that the program isn’t broken and doesn’t need to be fixed. He said he looks forward to working with them again.
Parker said there was a short list of highly qualified BU alumni in the mix, but in the end, Quinn was right for the position.
“He’s a BU guy through and through,’’ said Parker, who coached Quinn from 1984-87. “He’s got a great portfolio. He’s got great experience, not only at the college level but at other levels. I think some of the greatest coaching in the world is going on in the NHL right now and the American Hockey League. He brings a different perspective after being away for a while. I think they chose a terrific example of what we want here and he’ll do a great job.’’
For Quinn, it has been a veritable whirlwind.
“I took the red eye Sunday night after our game against Vancouver and landed at 5 o’clock [Monday] morning,’’ said Quinn, who met that day with BU president Robert Brown.
The decision was made quickly and a press conference quickly arranged. Quinn joked that he only brought one suit because he didn’t expect it to happen so fast and had to borrow a tie, which was a red one with BU on it.
At 6 p.m. Tuesday night, it was back on a plane to meet the Avalanche in Calgary. He said he looks forward to Oct. 1, when he can open his first practice, but for now, his focus will be with Colorado but his heart is with BU.
“I’ve been a lot of different places,’’ said Quinn. “It’s just good to be home.’’