BOSTON -- On a day filled with reminiscing, storytelling, and tradition, Jerry York stood in TD Garden the eldest of the four Beanpot coaches, with the most to share, and the most success.
As fate would have it, York was joined in the building—only six days before his Eagles will open up the 62nd Beanpot against archrival Boston University—by three of his former players, now all members of the NHL.
With the Florida Panthers in town to play the Bruins, and at the arena for morning skate, York got to see the likes of Scott Clemmenssen, Jimmy Hayes, and Mike Mottau. The latter, currently on injured reserved, delivered the Beanpot luncheon's "charge speech," given annually by someone who has a particularly good story about a Beanpot prior.
"I had a chance to visit with Mike now," York said. "I got to see Scott Clemmenssen and Jimmy Hayes. They always talk about how much fun it was to play in the Beanpot, so it was kind of a topic.
"We're still rooting for the Bruins though."
For York, this is his 23rd Beanpot: three as a player for the Eagles in the 1960's, and 20 as a coach. He's coached the Eagles to seven championships, while his team in the 60's won three, giving him a total of 10 trophies.
"All parties involved are exciting," he said. "I think it's something very special for these particular four teams.
"We cherish the opportunity that we're involved with this type of tournament."
Of course, York's adversaries are no strangers to the tournament as well. His opposing head coach, Ted Donato (Harvard), Jim Madigan (Northeastern), and David Quinn (Boston University) all played in the tournament, while Quinn, in his first year at the helm of the Terriers program, is in his first as a head coach.
"Until you get a chance to play in the championship game, you really don't have a great understanding of what the tournament is all about," said Donato. "Hopefully we'll have that opportunity."
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While York and the Eagles are considered the favorites entering Monday night's first round (Boston College comes in having won four consecutive Beanpots, and has gone a combined 4-0 against Beanpot schools this year), York still found time to reflect on the experience, and what it means for him to be a part of this tournament yet again.
"We won't overdo it. We're excited; we don't have to stroke anyone's fire," York said of his team's preparation. "It's not like we're going to play a team that's non-descript; we're going to play in the Beanpot.
"I kind of just stay out of the way a little bit."
All four coaches have won a Beanpot at one point or another. Quinn won twice as a player for BU in 1986 and 1987, and then four times as an associate head coach with the Terriers from 2004 through 2009.
Donato won the championship once as a player in 1989, a memory he said still sticks with him.
"For somebody who grew up in Hyde Park, and Dedham—to finally have that chance after playing so many street hockey games, kind of living that dream, to finally have a chance to play in it the first time, standing on the blue line for the national anthem-that would be first," said Donato. "And then the next year was winning it as a sophomore.
"Those would be the two big memories, as a local guy seeing all the other guys from BC, BU, and Northeastern all summer long to know that you had a chance to win it, and walk with your chest out; that was a nice feeling."
Madigan has been involved with three championship squads: twice as a player, and once as a coach.
"It certainly wasn't my skill that helped us win Beanpots," Madigan joked. "It's a great tournament, and what winning does for you; it carries with you the rest of your life.
"I don't think our players know what they don't know yet. The impact of this is measure five, 10, 15, 20 years later by being on a Beanpot championship team."
York is the most senior coach now that 40-year tenured Jack Parker has retired from BU. (Quinn was reminded by Donato when all four coaches took the stage to provide general thoughts and comments.)
"We stress all the time that the team that plays the best that night is going to win the game," York said. Records don't matter, and it's the same principal when we go into Monday night's game with BU; whoever plays best that particular night.
"Maybe it's not the best team, but whoever plays best that night."
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Follow @ev_sporer for continued updates from the Beanpot.