For veteran defenseman Tom Poti, the Capitals’ visit to Boston could not have been timed any better.
Just three days after Boston University men’s hockey coach Jack Parker announced that this will be his final season behind the Terriers’ bench Poti and the Capitals practiced on the BU campus Poti called home from 1996-98.
On Friday, the Capitals practiced at Agganis Arena, where Parker has molded dozens of NHL players, including Tony Amonte, Ryan Whitney, Jay Pandolfo, Poti, and Olympic gold medalist Mike Eruzione.
Parker announced his retirement on his 68th birthday.
“It’s a huge loss for BU hockey,” said Poti, a native of Worcester, Mass. “I figured he’d be there forever. When you think of BU hockey, you think of Jack Parker.”
Parker’s 894 victories at BU rank him second among all active collegiate coaches, but Poti said he remembers a man who treated every player the same, whether he was a senior bound for the NHL or a freshman bound to ride the bench.
“He was always helping the younger guys out, the freshmen,” Poti said. “I think he just kind of had command of the room. You respected him, you feared him, but you also loved to play for him. I think that’s why he’s been so successful for so many years.”
Poti was an offensive-minded defenseman at Cushing Academy in Ashbrurnham, Mass, when he decided to attend Boston University.
“One of the reasons I picked BU was they had turned a lot of guys pro and he coached a lot of guys that went on to the pros,” Poti said. “He helped me be a pro and learn the lifestyle and what to do, how to play.
Poti put up some big numbers in his two seasons with the Terriers, leading their blue liners with 13 goals and 42 points in 38 games in his sophomore season. But Poti said the biggest impact Parker had on him was in his own end.
“Before I get there, in high school I was all offense,” he said. “He kind of said, ‘If you want to stick around, you’ve got to play some defense.’ He kind of taught me the defensive game, and I owe him a lot for that.”
He might owe him a 13-year NHL career. Poti left BU after that sophomore season and was taken by the Edmonton Oilers in the third round of the 1996 draft.
He’s gone on to play in 822 games for the Oilers, Rangers, Islanders and Capitals.
“He didn’t care if you were a freshman or a senior, he treated you the same,” Poti said. “Maybe he was a little harder on the freshmen at times, but that’s understandable. Maybe that’s what set him apart from a lot of the other guys, that he treated everyone the same.”
Loose pucks: The Caps held an optional skate at Agganis Arena Friday afternoon. Coach Adam Oates told reporters he was considering using Aaron Volpatti on a top line with Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin when the Caps visit the Bruins at TD Garden on Saturday [1 p.m., CSN]. Defenseman Tomas Kundratek did not make the trip to Boston because of an apparent knee injury. Rookie Cameron Schilling is expected to take his place in the lineup, while Steve Oleksy is expected to take his spot on a top pairing with Karl Alzner.