Where Are They Now: Jack O'Callahan
No other team can claim a history as rich and colorful as the Chicago Blackhawks. As storied as the organization has been, its players have proven to be even more memorable and intriguing. Join us now as we take a journey back and visit with some of our heroes of yesterday to find out what they have been doing since leaving the game.
Jack O'Callahan played close to 400 NHL games for the Chicago Blackhawks and New Jersey Devils during the 1980s. He was adept at moving the puck up to his forwards and relished playing a physical game in his own end. O'Callahan was a key player at Boston University for three years. After enjoying a solid freshman year in 1976-77, the young defenseman was chosen 96th overall by the Blackhawks in the NHL Amateur Draft.
O'Callahan spent the 1979-80 season with the U.S. National team, which culminated in the 'miracle' gold medal performance at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics. He spent his first two professional seasons with the New Brunswick Hawks of the AHL and helped the club win the Calder Cup in 1982. He was called up to Chicago for half of the 1982-83 season and did not look out of place on one of the NHL's top outfits. That spring he appeared in five post-season games as Chicago reached the semi-finals. O'Callahan played four full seasons for the Hawks and helped the team reach the semi-finals again in 1985.
So where is Jack O'Callahan now?
I am president of a small institutional brokerage company, Beanpot Financial Services, Inc. Our firm is named after the Beanpot, a college hockey tournament in Boston. We have been in business since 1992. We have built our company as a service provider for professional money managers, hedge funds and private equity firms.
What is the best part of your current position?
I like being in business for myself and having the latitude to be creative with my and my partner's shared vision. Sometimes it has been good, other times not so good. At the end of the day, we know that the wins and losses are our own responsibility and we can be flexible when necessary.
What you would consider as your crowning achievement since your playing days ended?
It's tough for me to look at things that way, like what is the best or the second best, etc. It really makes no sense given the way I think. There are a lot of things I am proud of in my life that were difficult challenges that could have been disasters had I not persevered, both in my business life and in my personal life. They were, and are, all equally important to me.
One thing that I am very proud of is the way we came together after Keith Magnuson's tragic death and rallied around the Blackhawk Alumni group. Our associate members and the former players who live in the Chicago area, and many who live outside of town, really pulled together, and our group is on very solid footing as a result. That type of accomplishment -- something that is the result of a group of good friends all pulling together to focus on a common goal and remaining dedicated to it -- is something in which we can all have a lot of pride. The Alumni Association is all about giving back to the Chicago hockey community and to see the energy that so many pour into our group without wanting anything in return is very moving.
Any reflections on your days in a Blackhawks' sweater?
I enjoyed every single second that I played for the Blackhawks. My entire experience was great, including those times I was sent to the minors, the times I got called up, the games, the practices, the first time Bob Pulford told me to go get an apartment. Looking back, it was all a wonderful time of my life and I cherish every memory and every experience.
My most favorite time was the last six weeks of the 1985 season and the ensuing post-season when we made a run, ultimately losing the Stanley Cup Semi-Finals to Edmonton in 6 games. I had some very good games during that run and I was playing a lot and contributing to the team's success. On top of that, we were a very close-knit team and there is nothing like having success in sports with a bunch of good friends.
What do you enjoy doing in your leisure time away from work?
I make spare time and fortunately I have been able to do so over the past many years. I sure hope the pattern continues. I like to play golf because usually when I am doing that, I am with friends. I also like to exercise, run and ride my bike. I like to travel a bit and I have really enjoyed coaching young hockey players over the years. I have been very fortunate to have been on the ice over the years with my son and his teams as he has grown from a little 5 year-old to now a junior in high school at Loyola Academy, playing for their varsity hockey team.
I believe that I have a gift to pass on from the coaches that molded my athletic philosophies, guys like Jack Parker at BU, Herb Brooks from the '80 team, and the few pro coaches I had like Bob Pulford, who were pretty special and knowledgeable people. I also like being on the ice with the kids, as I have a pretty competitive nature. My most favorite activity, however, is definitely hanging out with my wife, Jenny, and watching my son, Aaron, and daughter, Rachael, mature into adulthood. I am very proud of all three of them.
If you could walk into a professional hockey team's locker room, what would you tell the players in the game today?
Well, first I would probably have to tell them to put down their cell phones as, from what I hear, they all spend too much time on their phones talking to their agents. I don't profess to know anything to tell them as they are in their primes and are all very committed athletes, determined to succeed. The only thing I would pass on is that in my experience, it is clear to me that the team that hangs together, wins together. I would suggest that they keep that in mind. Your teammates are the most important aspect of your athletic life and I don't care how much money you're making, hockey has to be fun, and it is no fun to play on a losing team, especially one with even a few players that are more concerned with themselves than with their team.
Thanks for thinking of me and please send my best wishes to the Blackhawks. I'll always pull for them and I can hardly wait for the days when they are back on top of the heap. When the Hawks are rocking, there is no place like Chicago.