Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Jack Parker discusses Yasin Cissé's decision to leave Boston University

By Tim Healey/DFP Staff

Yasin Cissé, who left the Boston University men’s hockey team earlier this week after an up-and-down two and a half years, agreed to join the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League on Wednesday.

Cissé is the second Terrier to leave the team mid-season in favor of the QMJHL in the last 12 months, following in the steps of forward Charlie Coyle, who left BU in December 2011 to join the Saint John Sea Dogs.

BU head coach Jack Parker spoke Wednesday about Cissé’s departure, and touched on a variety of topics, including how Cissé’s decision came about, his time at BU, his future in hockey and the effect it has on the team.

Here’s a full transcript of Parker’s comments:

So did you not know until Tuesday night that Cissé was leaving?
I think Cissé’s been planning on leaving for two and a half years. Two days ago when I told him he wasn’t going to dress for the next game, he went out and practiced hard the rest of that practice. I told him before practice. He went out and practiced hard, then he came in Monday night right after practice and told me he wanted to leave. And he wants to leave because he’s upset [because] he doesn’t want to fight for a position, he wasn’t progressing the way he wants to progress, and he wants to go play major junior hockey before he’s too old to do that.
He left on good terms with me and I know he left on good terms with every one of his teammates. He addressed his team I think before he even addressed me, he addressed the team and told them that. So it’s not unexpected. He’s a real good kid and a real good character kid. He’s just not happy with — he doesn’t see himself as a third-line, fourth-line guy. He wants to be a first-line guy.

What got in the way of his development here at BU?
I think first he really struggled with missing two whole years. He never really recovered from that, I don’t think. That’s been the biggest part of it. Physically he’s recovered but he doesn’t have his game back.

And you know, he’s just not producing. I think he played half the year this year on the first line. And the other half he played on the third line, and he doesn’t have a goal. There’s just not things happening for him.

We put him on the first line because I thought he was getting better and I wanted to give him some confidence, and it wasn’t like he was becoming a big star and we moved him up to the first line. We wanted to give him some confidence. And even then, it wasn’t — it’s just not enough to get him going.

Did anybody take issue with him leaving in the middle of the season, with two games left in the semester?
No, not his teammates. I certainly didn’t.

I’m not in the business of making 20-year-olds or 21-year-olds miserable. He’s very unhappy. He’s really struggling in every phase of his life because hockey’s not going the way he wants it to go.

Was he not having a good time in Boston/at BU?
I think he loved BU, I think he loved his teammates, I think he loved everything about the place. But when I talk to my former players who are pro players always wondering if they should hold out or sign with a different team, you always know from talking to these guys their life is great if hockey’s going great. These are guys that are 25-year-old, 30-year-old guys. They’re married with kids. If hockey’s going well, their life is going well. If hockey isn’t going well, it doesn’t matter if his kids are getting all A’s in school — his life stinks! It’s lousy.

And I think that’s true of these kids here. They’re here to be student-athletes, but part of it is they want to be BU hockey players. They want to get what they think they deserve out of it. He wasn’t getting what he wanted to get out of it, so he was miserable.

Will he be able to improve playing in the QMJHL?
I don’t think anybody can improve better playing in [major] juniors.

Charlie Coyle put up big numbers — can Cissé?         
It doesn’t mean [Coyle was] better. [Laughs.] He’s playing against 17-year-olds.

Charlie Coyle was a first-line player here. Cissé was not a first-line player. I don’t think he’ll put up the same production.

[Editor’s note: When Coyle left in December 2011, he had actually been playing on the second line. Cissé had played on the first line much of this season.]

I hope he does [succeed]. I wish him nothing but the best and I hope he’s a big star and gets to the NHL. It’ll be great for him. But I don’t know if that’s going to happen.

Was he ever close to leaving in the past?                              
I think he’s been close to leaving from the day he got here.

How close was he to pulling the trigger?         
I have no idea. Some of his teammates have told me, yeah, he’s been one foot out the door for two and a half years — and they all like him.

It’s not like he was never on the team. They all like him. They think he’s a great guy. They think he’s a good teammate, but he was just never happy.

Did he come back this year, as opposed to leaving over the summer, as one last chance at BU?
I think he started off on the first line in the beginning of the year, we wanted him to make a big jump. We were trying to get a couple of guys we talked about — Hohmann and Rodrigues and Privitera and Cissé. We thought we were a good team if those guys make a big jump. So we gave him every opportunity to step into a better role than he had his first year playing.

How will this affect the team chemistry-wise?
I don’t think it has anything to do with the team. It’s not like, ‘How are we going to replace his goals?’ It has to do with we lost a good friend, we lost a roommate. He lived with three other guys on the team. He’s a real good guy. And he is a terrific kid. So all that and he was really well liked.

He’s a real class act, he’s a good representative of this university. And now he’s not here, that’s bad. But as far as the hockey team is concerned it isn’t [a factor]. Some guys are happy they’ll get more ice time.

I don’t think they’re bemoaning the fact that “Well, how can we go on without Cissé?’

Have you decided who’s going to take his spot in the lineup?
It was already decided before. He was not going to be in the lineup. Sahir Gill is going to play right wing on the first line and Moran is going to take Gill’s spot on the third line. That was already decided before Yas made his decision.

So what happens if a forward goes down?
[Knocks on the wall, then a wood table.] We got guys we could put. First of all we have two more forwards [junior Matt Ronan and senior Jake Moscatel]. In reality Matty can play both forward and defense. So we have that going for us.

We also have the fact that we could move somebody up front from the defensemen. And if we had to, we could go with seven defenseman and three and a half lines. People have survived that before.

It would be nice to have more competition for spots. It would be nice to have depth in case you do get a rash of injuries, but we’ll be able to cover a few injuries.


  1. This is what happens when players do not go to BU for an education in addition to a hockey career. Cisse should have stayed at BU, got the most out of a first class education for free. He has no chance for a NHL career. He has maybe two points at almost half the year? It was noted on the Blog that a former player is in the CHL pro league. They make $100.00 a game. Someone should get to these kids and tell them what life is all about. Even if one has a marginal career, up and down in the NHL, he will be out of hockey before he is 30 on average. What are they to do now? I met one of these ex college players (not BU_ at a bar one day. He was washed out, about 28- 29 years old and broke with no prospects. I had to pay his bar bill. I wonder how many time this happens. How can anyone see the way Cisse plays and even mention the NHL? That is nuts. I hope this guy does ok in life but to quit at this point. Not smart. And a curse on the Canaduan Jrs for taking players at mid stream from their college teams.

    1. They make 50 dollars a week and get free education to the university of their choice. Learn your facts before you just make stuff up like it's somehow the truth.

    2. Learn your facts before you just make stuff up like it's somehow the truth. They get one year of free education for every year they play in the league. Since Cisse will only play half of a year does he even get one year of education? Plus, if he signs a pro contract, in any league, that education package is null.

    3. Wrong. If he signs an NHL contract it's null. If he signs any other pro contract he has 18 months to start using the scholarship.

  2. You're forgetting he has already been drafted by an NHL team and will at least land on an ECHL team, but more than likely an AHL team. Your example of a friend who lost all of his money sounds more like a personal issue, rather than education. Low end NHL players make more than low end NFL players now. If you can't manage to save/invest $100,000-$500,000, that is your own problem.

    This article makes it appear that he just was never happy, and I don't know many players that perform well when they are not happy/comfortable.

    1. That is a pretty bad assumption to make. It doesn't matter if you are drafted by an NHL team, if you don't produce or progress, you will not be signed. Patrick White, first rounder for Minnesota, not signed by anyone. Not NHL, AHL, or ECHL. He is now playing in Europe. NHL draft status has very little to do with getting signed.

    2. The coach was arrogant and didn't have the courage to be honest and criticize him like a man.. He basically said Cisse sucked and had no impact on the team. Begs the question, why was there? Why did he play? and why was he on the first line? Did he do it to placate him?? Sounds very questionable from a program like Boston U. The coach is arrogant and probably is a great hockey coach but I suspect he's not such a great guy. I will miss Cisse playing with Boston U. but it is apparent that the coach did not respect him...good that he left.

  3. Jack should just wish his players that leave his program good luck and be done with it.Instead he has to keep shooting his mouth off because its all about Jack. If you can't say anything nice just learn to keep your mouth shut.

  4. ^ Agreed. No need to say something that could get into a players had after he is already gone. As good as a program BU is, they are all still College Athletes and should be treated as so.

  5. Jack Parker is a joke. Talk about bully. A grown man spewing lies. I know the family and this kid. He's a stand-up player and a great student who treats everyone with respect. Parker could learn a few things from how to be a man

    1. Reading Comprehension Fail. Parker said Cisse is a good kid and a nice person. He probably is. Parker was just speaking the truth about Cisse's hockey abilities. Besides, it's much easier to score goals in the Q since they don't play defense.

    2. Put your top team in NCAA against top tema in the Q, or OHL or WHL and you will lose big time.I dont see how you can say they dont play defense in the Q..

    3. Top NCAA team would do just fine against top team in the CHL

  6. As a fan, it is great to get Jack's take. I appreciate his candor. He is the anti-Belichek. He'll tell you precisely what he thinks. However, if I were a BU administrator, I'd probably prefer that he thank the player for his efforts, wish him well in his future endeavors, and leave it at that. From a perception standpoint, there is little to be gained by hashing this over in public.

    1. you think Parker's comments were candor? Don't mistake criticizing his player as candor...

  7. I don't get the bash Parker stuff in this case. Parker said that Cisse was a great kid, well respected, but was not happy. Just because you are a good kid from a good family does not make you a great player. Not every player wants to go to school and play hockey. Cisse never measured up to his reputation. He has been on the first line most of the season and has not performed well. Just sit at a game and listen to the fans who were frustrated with his lack of performance. Cisse had a lot of chances that better players deserve.

  8. I appreciate Parker's candor and transparency, but can see how the truth can rub some people the wrong way in today's over-sensitive, politically correct society. By no means did he bash Cisse personally, but think about how many college students -- whether or not they are student-athletes -- are unhappy in their current situations and how many want to/end up leaving. Same applies to the workplace.

    Sounds like Cisse is a good kid who was well-liked, but no longer saw light at the end of the tunnel in terms of what he wanted to get out of his BU experience (esp. for what he chose BU for). One can say that coaches should be even more thorough in vetting through recruits during the recruiting process to ensure the individuals they choose are the RIGHT fit for their program, but there's no guarantee that everyone whom they think is a good fit and is offered a great opportunity will get what they want out of the situation.

    Cisse has potential, but never produced and fulfilled that promise as much as everyone (himself included) wanted him to.

  9. ^Parker's "first line" gimmick that he keeps repeating has little substance considering Cisse was playing first line with no power-play time nor 4-on-4. The tone of Parker's comments are oddly vindictive and childish. For such a revered coach with so many years at BU, you'd think he would speak with more class and respect towards a former terrier. Very bizarre.

  10. What kind of coach says personal things like that about a player? I'd say an unhappy and classless one. Forget the stats for a minute and look at how Parker came out slinging mud about this athlete, perhaps on the defense because he thought Cisse would tell the truth about this coach. Wrong play Parker. Cisse appears to really be a good kid with honor as demonstrated in his statement. While Parker's ego was running out of control, he alleged very personal and defamatory information that had no business being disclosed - whether true or not. If the coach had any first hand knowledge then there seems to be a breach of some kind. I certainly wouldn't trust telling this coach anything as you may read about it in the news! I hope the Administrators reprimand this irresponsible actions.

    1. I don't think that recruit and retain is a principle in college hockey, especially programs where players are frequently drafted by the NHL. Players move on, for whatever reason. It is always nice when you get players to stick around for 4 years.
      Or choose to stick around like Gilroy did a few years ago. I was a student at BU when Dick Lamby came in from Salem St., exciting player, coast to coast puck carrier. And there were others then, that went into the late 70's, national champs in '78 and Olympic Glory. However, recall the early 80's -- a huge fall. Recently, the program has been through a lot, deserved scrutiny, a couple of players being arrested, another kicked off and playing at another Boston area college. But the 4 year guys provide the backbone, the foundation. Recent years its been the Grybas (who else could rub out a player in front of his own bench on a regular basis!) Popko with all those games, Chris Connolly and others. Big win at UNH tonight, knocking off two #1 ranked teams in the nation in less than a week! Huge forechecking effort, the freshman are playing like madmen. I believe folks did as much as they could for Cisse. Supports, counseling, tutoring - I'm sure that those were offered. When someone isn't happy, and cant help themselves - or don't want to -- its going to be tough to pull him over the threshold to see the light. Ultimately, they want to do that. And injuries are tough. In pro football, look at what Barry Sanders first injuries did to him. An unbelieveable running back who could move in every direction, once he was injured that shine was lost - he knew it and made a choice to step away. Fortunately, he built a strong record in a short time and his athletic prowess will be remembered and benefits efforts to learn more about scleroderma.

    2. Are you serious? Very personal and defamatory?

      A public attack on one's character and/or revealing sensitive/confidential information about Cisse would be "personal and defamatory". How does Parker saying that one of his players was not happy constitute a "personal and defamatory" attack?

      I take it if you were Cisse's shoes and your coach made those comments following your decision, you would take legal action against him for defamation of character? Talk about overreacting and being overly politically correct and oversensitive.

  11. More words to take the heat off the ignorant statements made by the coach. And what was the point about trying to diss Coyle? True or not, who says stuff like that? If this is how Parker rattles off in the public forum, it's scary to think what he says in private to these guys. I'd leave, too. Best of Luck to Cisse.

  12. Parker always tries to diss Coyle and the QMJHL. Some of these players can sign pro contracts now and it depends how good you are on the amount of the contract.These players are always being watched by the NHL teams that drafted them and if they don't think That it's going the right way for there players guess what there going to sit down with them and tell them what they think and for a lot of these players the goal is to get to the Nhl. Weather you go to college or the QMJHL it does not matter there both good leagues the Q sometimes puts you on the fast track to the NHL and thats why players go there.Going to college gives you somthing to fall back on so in the end it's what ever you think is best for you there is no right or wrong way. Parker should just worry about his team and stop taking shots at players that have left the program. It's not all about you Jack.

  13. Cisse was always a mystery to me. He is big, fast, and physical. I was expecting him to become a headliner. It seemed that once he had a breakout game he would become a force. But he just didn't seem to catch on to BU's system.
    I wasn't totally surprised that he was going to sit for the UNH game. In the loss at BC, he was in the penalty box for the for the 1st BC goal, and for another one, I believe it was the 2nd. You had to think at the time that this would be an issue with the coaching staff. Surely they wanted a weekend sweep as much as the rest of us.
    Since it seems unanimous that he is a good guy, the BU community should wish him the very best. We're in pretty good shape after the first 1/2, and he was a part of it.

  14. I'm not really sure what the big deal is here. Yes, Parker is kind of a bully sometimes, but his style works for the most part. As a lifelong hockey player, Cisse knows that its probably better for him to be mediocre in the Q rather than be mediocre in college hockey because as he can play more of a power forward game in the Q by hitting more and fighting if he thinks that will help him get to the next level quicker.

    Take a look at BU's recent history with NHL'ers, alot of draft picks, not many NHL stars. He wasn't making a huge impact anyways, and maybe the lineup changes will work our for BU and the change in scenery can workout for Cisse.

    BTW: He already has more points in 6 games in the Q than the whole season at BU. Furthermore, if Cisse did have success at BU he was going to leave early anyways, this just expedites the process.