|Anaheim Ducks forward George Parros donates his hair every December to 'Locks of Love', a non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to cancer-stricken children.
Usually, a couple of good quacks are all it takes.
At 6-foot-5, and sporting long black hair and a signature mustache that Tom Selleck would envy, Parros’ towering presence weighs down opponents like a mother’s eye.
His best on-ice battles have been against tough guys like Robyn Regehr, Georges Laraque and Jody Shelley. And though impressive, his biggest battle yet has less to do with taking one on the chin and more to do with using his head.
Every December for the last five years, Parros has donated his hair to Locks of Love, a non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to cancer-stricken children.
Locks of Love made perfect sense for Parros, whose personal style proved to be very beneficial for the Florida-based organization whose reach extends throughout the United States.
“I heard about the charity and I had to cut my hair anyway, so decided I’d cut a lot of it off and do something good with it,” Parros explained. “When I turned pro I started growing it out and it would get really long around December, so around the same time of year, it’s long enough to cut. I’m really happy to do it.”
The George Parros Cut for Kids event was held during the Anaheim Ducks Wild Winger’s Kids Club Party at the Newport Sports Museum on Dec. 15. It marked the first year Ducks fans became involved in the worthwhile cause, as 10 fans were invited to join Parros in donating their hair. In prior years, the winger had been cutting and sending his locks on his own, but he believes making it a fan-friendly event raises awareness of the Locks of Loves initiative.
“This year was unbelievable as far as that’s concerned,” Parros says. “In the years past, people have come up to me and have told me they thought it was a great thing I was doing. But with this year, with the people cutting their hair with me, it was really something.”
Parros was humbled by all 10 participants – mostly huge Ducks fans – and got a front-row seat to see what a positive example he has made.
“There was a family there with a kid that was 11 years old and his dad is going through cancer treatment right now for stomach cancer, and is having chemo treatments,” Parros said. “His son decided to grow his hair all year long and cut it with me. It was really cool to see him cut his hair for his father.”
Who knows if Parros would have had long hair to cut each year if he had listened to his hockey coach at Princeton University, who frowned upon his disheveled look during his years at the Ivy League school. At Princeton, Parros – who became the team’s captain in his senior year (2002-03) – totaled 52 points and 119 penalty minutes in 111 games. He also was a three-time member of the ECAC All-Academic Team.
“In college they didn’t want me to grow my hair out or let it get too long,” Parros remembers. “I got a lot of crap for it from the coach.”
Soon after college, Parros joined the Manchester Monarchs, the minor-league affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings, the team that chose Parros in the eighth round of the 1999 NHL Entry Draft. With an economics degree in one hand and his hockey stick in the other, Parros quickly learned that if he was going to use his big body to hit, he would have to deal with the consequences.
It was then that Parros began to take notice of enforcers like Bob Probert, and began to develop his fighting skills in the summer.
“I never fought as a kid and always thought of myself as more of a player,” said Parros, who idolized Mario Lemieux growing up. “But I realized that if I ever wanted to make the NHL I’d probably have to add another skill to my skill set. Fighting made sense to me because I’m a big guy and I like to hit a lot. By the time I turned pro, I figured if I can be the player that I am, and hit, then I would be all the more attractive to an NHL team.”
|“When I turned pro I started growing it out and it would get really long around December, so around the same time of year, it’s long enough to cut. I’m really happy to do it.” -- George Parros|
But along with the “enforcer” tag, long hair and mustache, came the stereotypes. No one would guess this fighter could be battling the Bulls and Bears on Wall Street instead of the Sharks and Panthers on the ice.
“That (college degree) takes a lot of people by surprise,” said Parros. “But any time you’re a fighter, unfortunately they think you’re as smart as a box of rocks. But I guess I’m an exception to that rule. People assume you’re one thing and like a lot of us guys, it’s just not the case.”
The Ducks organization and fans have realized what an asset Parros is, on and off the ice. Last season, his first with the team, Parros helped the Ducks advance to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, compiling 102 penalty minutes in just 32 games. He played five games in the postseason and tallied 10 penalty minutes as Anaheim won the franchise’s first Stanley Cup.
After arriving from the Colorado Avalanche in a trade at the tail end of the 2006-07 season, Ducks fans quickly embraced the tough guy, holding signs that read “Beware of the Stache”, and “Parros Nation”. It wasn’t long until Parros’ mustache was a common sight, thanks to a fan who sold fake ’staches at the Honda Center team store.
“The mustache took on a life of its own last year,” he laughs. “I grew it in the summer for fun and it kind of just stuck around. They started selling the fake ones and it worked out because some of the proceeds go to Locks of Love. It was perfect.”
This season, with 34 games under his heavyweight belt, Parros has two points and a team-leading 89 penalty minutes. He has found his spot as a regular on the team by finding a happy medium, providing skating and playing ability, as well as shelling out muscle and grit.
He’s also found contentment off the ice, living in beautiful Hermosa Beach, Calif., his place just steps from the beach. His parents are close by, as well, after uprooting from Parros’ childhood home of Randolph, N.J.
No, life isn’t too shabby for Parros – despite what first impressions may suggest to others.
“With my hair as long as it is and as big of a guy as I am, I’m sure there are plenty of people who think I’m just a dirty individual or unkempt individual,” he jokes. “But the response I’ve gotten for Locks of Love, they’ve been great. As long as my hair keeps growing, I’ll keep donating. God willing, my hair will keep growing.”
After all, they say that every superhero wears a disguise.