In downtown Boston’s historic Faneuil Hall, in front of an adoring home crowd, Boston University senior center Chris Drury was named the 1998 Hobey Baker Memorial Award winner.
With 28 goals and 27 assists in his final collegiate year, the native of Trumbull, Conn., is the 18th recipient of the award given annually to college hockey’s most outstanding player.
Michigan State goaltender Chad Alban was the first runner-up for the trophy.
“To have Chris Drury win this award in a BU uniform is apropos for the award and apropos for Boston University,” said Jack Parker, the Terriers’ head coach.
“I’ve coached a lot of great players at BU — this is my twenty-fifth season. There were a lot of people that made it to the NHL, a lot of people who didn’t make it to the NHL but who were great players. I don’t remember coaching anybody that combined the talent, the determination and competitive spirit that Chris Drury has shown from first day of practice to his last day at Boston University.”
In accepting the award, Drury thanked a number of people who helped him along the way, including Parker, his teammates and his family.
“I’d like to thank all of my teammates for making my last year here a very special one. Without them, this wouldn’t have been possible, and it definitely wouldn’t have been any fun. They made it a really special year for me.
“I’d like to thank all my coaches, from Little League to high school hockey and high school baseball to BU. Coaches are extremely special people in the world, and without them there’s no way I’d be standing up here.
“I’d like to say thank you to my family. My mother and my sister have probably been to every rink in New England, and my brothers, Ted and Jim, who have been my best friends, inspiration and role models since I was born.
“Last and certainly not least, I’d like to thank my dad.”
After thanking his father, Drury shared a story from his rookie season with the audience, a story that captured the relationship between father and son and said more about both than the Hobey Baker winner probably realized.
“During my freshman year, we played UNH about halfway through the year at home. The day before, Coach Parker told me I wasn’t dressing, that I wasn’t playing too good.
“So I called down to Connecticut and told [my dad] not to come up. He said, ‘Don’t worry about it,’ and told me he’d probably talk to me later in the week.
“The next morning, Chris Kelleher and I went down to have breakfast at about nine a.m., after a long night. We were down in Shelton Hall, and who do we see but my dad on the phone, calling up to our room to ask us if we wanted to go to breakfast.
“Of course, we went. It was a good time, and he really didn’t mention anything about the game. Chris said his goodbyes…and I was left with my dad in the car, expecting him to at least ask me something about why I got benched, or at least badmouth the coaches or something.
“But he didn’t say any of that. I was pretty surprised. All he said was not to worry and that everything was going to be fine, and he went back to Connecticut.”
Drury paused and placed his hand on the Hobey Baker Memorial Award trophy, looked at his father and said, “Well, Dad, I guess everything turned out fine.”
Summarizing his four years as a Terrier, Drury said that his was a “tremendous experience,” and that he chose Boston University in part because he felt the Terrier hockey program would provide the best opportunity for fun.
“It really wasn’t because of all the NHL players, or the coaching staff or the NCAA appearances. It was the type of place where I thought I could go to get a good education, have fun with it, and they had the type of people there who could help me become the best type of college hockey player I could be.
“I couldn’t think of anything else I would want in a school or a college hockey program.”
The Quebec Nordiques drafted him in 1994, but Drury said that he hasn’t spoken to the team — now the Colorado Avalanche — about playing since his season ended.
Accolades are nothing new to Drury, who has been in the spotlight since he was 12 years old. He was the pitcher of record when his Trumbull Little League team won the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Penn., in August of 1989.
Drury said “it was pretty hard” to give up baseball, but “the opportunity to play in college wasn’t there. I still love baseball.”
For the first time since the Hobey Baker Memorial Award ceremony has been held in conjunction with the NCAA Tournament, an admission charge of $5.00 was charged per person, because of the limited seating available in Faneuil Hall.
All the money collected from ticket sales went to the Travis Roy foundation. In thanking Roy, Drury called him “my inspiration and also a good friend for the past couple of years.”
At the end of the presentation — and after the emotional tribute by his son — John Drury wanted to say something about his son that doesn’t necessarily get mentioned in the press guides. The pride in his voice was unmistakable.
“He’s very honest. He tries always to be honest, and he tries to be true.”