Monday, December 03, 2007

Honoring one of BU's own: Bob Crocker

It’s hard to find something positive to say when your arch-rival has swept your hockey team. But during Saturday night's 4-3 BC win, BU honored a very important contributor to its long hockey tradition: Bob Crocker—former BU freshman and assistant coach and recruiter extraordinaire, current “Dean” of New England pro scouts, longtime friend of Terrier hockey, and simply one of the best people you'll meet anywhere in hockey.

While Jack Kelley was the “director-producer” of BU’s hockey resurgence during the '60s and early '70s, culminating in the back-to-back national championships in 1971 and 1972, Bob Crocker was the “casting director” whose dogged recruiting efforts established pipelines from Canada that year-after-year delivered top-notch talent to the Terrier program.

The names go on forever: Fred Bassi, Brian Gilmour, Pete McLachlan, Wayne Ryan, Serge Boily, Mickey Gray, Larry Davenport, Mike Hyndman, Steve Stirling, Wayne Gowing, Bob Brown, Ric Jordan, Mike LaGarde, Jake Danby, Bob Gryp, Dave Wisener and Dave Warner, to just scratch the surface. While BU was a heavily Canadian program for much of that time, Bob secured considerable domestic talent as well, including: Tom Ross, Jack Ferreira, Dick Toomey, later head coach at Brown, Don “Toot” Cahoon, now head coach at UMass, Paul Giandomenico, Dan Brady and Tim Regan—the goalies for the two title teams—Steve Dolloff and Jack Parker.

Crocker’s duties also included coaching the Terrier Pups during those no-freshman eligibility days. He led one squad to a 15-0-1 record and then the 1968-69 freshmen, the group that would backbone the two national title teams, to a 17-0-0 mark, making them the first undefeated/untied athletic team in BU history.

Crocker’s influence at BU didn’t end after 1972 when he assumed the head coaching job at Penn. His recruits—Bill Burlington, Bill Bishop Bill Buckton (all from Owen Sound) Vic Stanfield, Peter Brown, Ed Walsh, Peter Marzo, Ken Kuzyk, Bill Robbins and Terry Meagher—now in his 25th year as Bowdoin’s head coach—were the core of the Terrier squads that ran off four ECAC titles in the 1970s.

Among the former Terriers who returned to BU on Saturday to honor Coach Crocker and his family were: Joe Meehan, Mark Fennie, Jim McCann, Frank D'Orio, Paul Giandomenico, Darrell Abbott, Ron Anderson and three All-Americans, current NHL executive Jack Ferreira, Bob Brown and Jake Danby

With permission from editor Chris Warner, we're posting Saturday's U.S. Hockey Report article about the Crocker recognition:

12/1/07 : Crocker to be Honored Tonight
Today, Bob Crocker is best known as the dean of the New England scouts. He’s the guy the younger scouts try to emulate, for his thoroughness, his energy level, his knowledge of the game, and, most importantly, the way he treats people.

Over 35 years ago, Crocker, who now scouts for the LA Kings, was an assistant on Jack Kelley’s staff at Boston University, and was the key guy in recruiting the players that would form the nucleus of the Terriers back-to-back NCAA championship teams of ’70-71 and ’71-72.

There were some pretty remarkable players on those teams, which went 54-6-2 over those two seasons. Steve Stirling, Bob Brown, John Danby, Toot Cahoon, the late Ric Jordan, Ron Anderson, Bob Gryp, Tim Regan, Dan Brady… and those are just the big names.

Chairman of the Friends of BU Hockey Paul Giandomenico was a forward on both of those teams and is the force behind the tribute to Crocker planned during tonight’s BU-BC game at Agganis Arena. “Bob was a major contributor to those two championship teams. He must have recruited ninety percent of the guys,” Giandomenico says.

However, Giandomenico points out, Bob did more than just recruit the kids to BU. “For the four years that the kids were there, he was everyone’s father. He helped them take care of any problems or issues they had. He was just the man. He was especially important to the guys who came down from Canada. He would help them get acclimated to the city and the life at school and he made sure they stayed in school. He kept them reined in.”

A good number of the players who will be toasting Crocker tonight in Agganis’ Mark Bavis Suite are coming down from Canada to be on hand.

Giandomenico says the ceremony will be low-key. Between periods the Jumbotron’s cameras will pan up there and a short tribute will be read. The former players have a gift for him – a Chelsea Clock – but, says Giandomenico, it’s on backorder.

The players on hand will encompass a greater range than just those two years, as Crocker’s ties with Boston University go back much further. After graduating from BU in 1955, Crocker served the school as director of intramurals. He also was head coach of the varsity baseball team. In the 1960s, Crocker coached the freshman hockey team, which one year went 17-0-0.

After the second NCAA championship season at BU, Crocker took over as head coach of the University of Pennsylvania. In his first season, the Quakers went 16-9-2 and finished fourth in the ECAC, which consisted of 17 teams then. On March 6 Penn went up to Walter Brown Arena and defeated BU, 7-3, knocking the Terriers, then coached by Leon Abbott, out of the ECAC Tournament.

Penn, however, didn’t capitalize on their hockey success, and instead tightened the team’s budget, putting a serious crimp on recruiting. By the late ‘70s varsity hockey at Penn was done.

Crocker then put in 15 years as an assistant general manager with the Hartford Whalers (NHL). After that he scouted for the New York Rangers, who won a Stanley Cup during that time, and is now with Los Angeles.

We’re printing this story as late as possible. We want people going to the game to have this info so they can stop and say hi to Crocker, but at the same time much of this is meant to be a surprise. However, he may have an inkling that something is up because his wife of 56 years, Ann, is attending the game with him tonight -- and that’s a rarity.

No comments:

Site Meter