Editor's Note: This article originally appears in the latest edition of Ducks Digest. Pick one up for free at every Ducks home game.
By Adam Brady
With the thick jet black mustache and the flowing hair, George Parros
hardly fits the image of a professional hockey player. For that matter, he doesn’t look much like a man with a finance degree from Princeton
But Parros is both of those things, in addition to being one of the more popular and recognizable players in Ducks history. Since arriving in Anaheim
via a trade with Colorado
on Nov. 13 of last season, the 27-year-old Parros was almost instantly a fan favorite. And it’s not just for his looks. As the Ducks’ resident heavyweight, the 6-5, 229-pounder dropped the gloves last year almost as frequently as he touched the puck, compiling a league-high 18 fighting majors. This season, while Parros is finding fights harder to come by, he’s played a more significant role on Anaheim
’s fourth forward line.
Parros spent some time after a recent practice to talk about his development as an enforcer, his roots in the game and just what the deal is with that mustache. Ducks Digest: Like every player, you grew up in the game developing your skating and puck-handling skills. But how did you go about becoming an enforcer?
It started after the Kings drafted me and I came out to their summer development program. I realized I’m a big body and I like to hit. So, I figured if I was going to play that way professionally, I would have to defend myself. I might as well learn slowly and get my feet wet in the summertime, go out there and fight and feel my way around. Then when I turned pro, I realized that if I had a chance to make the NHL, it would probably be as a fighter. Otherwise, it would be a longer road trying to make it as a scorer or a checking line guy. I figured, as big as I am, that would help me make the team.
When I played in juniors, I scored goals. I scored less goals in college, but there’s no fighting in college. I was an offensive player, somewhat. So, I didn’t start fighting until I was a professional, so I was a little behind the eight ball.
|"I would like to evenutally become more of a reliable guy, someone who can play more ice time and just play the game. But I'm obvciously not afraid to drop the gloves at any time either." |
Did you train to be a fighter?
I mostly got a lot of help from my buddy Ryan Flinn [who is now in Edmonton] when he was with the Kings. He helped me out a lot and showed me some things, like when the best time to fight is or what being a fighter is all about. I learned a lot from him. In the summers I would take two weeks of boxing training to get a feel for it and get used to punches coming at my head and throwing them too.
Do you study other fighters?
Oh yeah. I watch a lot of fights on YouTube or hockeyfights.com. I go there a lot. You want to be prepared. It’s like studying for a test. You want to know what guys’ tendencies are and that sort of thing. It helps out.
How do fights usually start on the ice?
Usually it’s something where you might be down by a goal or two and I’ll look at their guy and be like, “You want to give me a fight?” There are some guys who are more than willing and there are others where you have to be really careful and not take a penalty trying to get them to go. The best way to do it is just go around and hit a lot. Someone’s going to want to stop you from doing that. That always drums up business.
In your first year with the Ducks, you led the league in fighting majors, but you’re a little off that pace this year. What’s changed?
Well, these days it’s a lot tougher to get a fight [laughs]. I haven’t been able to find too many guys to fight me. There are fewer teams with a so-called heavyweight. Even if I go around hitting, no one is trying to fight me lately. It’s a little frustrating, but it’s something I’m trying to work through.
Is that partly why you’ve played more of an offensive role this year?
Yeah, definitely. I don’t mind if I don’t have to fight. I would like to eventually become more of a reliable guy, someone who can play more ice time and just play the game. That would be perfect for me. That’s how I started playing hockey. Fighting has been a recent development in my career. I definitely would like to get back to that, but I’m obviously not afraid to drop the gloves at any time either.
Are there any fights that stand out in your career?
The Boogaard one [his fight with Minnesota heavyweight Derek Boogaard on Oct. 14 at Honda Center] was a big one. There was a lot of tension mounting from the playoffs last year, and then he hit [Todd] Bertuzzi in that game and we weren’t too happy about that. So, it was important for me to have a good fight with him. I had some fights in the minors I was pretty excited about. There was one game in Manchester where a player, Brendan Buckley, had put one of our leading scorers out with a knee injury. When he came back from suspension, it was at our home rink and people were calling for blood. That was a big night because I had a goal and three fights, two of them against Buckley and another against D.J. King [now with St. Louis]. I played only about a minute and a half and I got kicked out of the game. So, that was an action-packed minute and a half [laughs].
Going back a few years, how did you end up at Princeton?
I played all my high school hockey and youth hockey in New Jersey, about an hour away from Princeton. They eventually saw me at a tournament and asked me to apply and defer a year and play juniors, because they didn’t think I was big enough yet. I played a year of juniors in Chicago, matured for a year and went to Princeton.
Speaking of Chicago, you had a side job as a runner on the Chicago Board of Trade while you were there. What was that like?
That was crazy, but it was cool. I could only do it for about half a season because I would wake up at 4:30 in the morning, get on a 5:00 train into the city and work until the market closed at 2. Then I would take the train right to practice at around 4. But it was a really cool experience and I worked with some great people. It was pretty intense. Sometimes you’d be carrying a ticket for a million shares and that’s like millions of dollars. It’s partly on your hands, and you have to get into the pit and get it to the trader. It was pretty wild. It was like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
|"I love the fans to death. They've been great here and I really feel at home. I think the mustache has something to do with that, but whatever it is, I'm glad they like it." |
How was playing hockey in the Ivy League?
It was alright. We weren’t competing for the national championship or anything. When I was at Princeton we had a lot of tough years, a lot of losing moments. Some days it wasn’t so great, and it was a battle going to the rink. But it was fun and the college experience was a good one. I don’t regret anything about that.
You graduated in 2003 with a degree in economics. Did you ever think of using that for something outside of hockey?
Actually, I never even considered doing anything else. After I got drafted, I planned on playing professionally at some level. I knew I’d give hockey a shot and worry about everything else later. But I have a lot of friends from school who went into investment banking and that sort of field. I don’t think I could do that now. It’s pretty crazy.
Are they making more money than you are?
Some of them. Yeah.
When did you start wearing the mustache?
In college I would grow a mustache for the playoffs or something like that, just to be different or as a half joke. I always had a fond respect for the mustache, and I always loved hockey’s history with the mustache. It used to be that everybody had one. But I didn’t have one for a little while, until two summers ago when I went to Vegas and grew one in for that trip just for fun. I showed up to L.A. and was working out before training camp, and the new coach there, Marc Crawford, saw it and said, “That’s a great mustache.” I told him, “Oh yeah? I’m thinking about keeping it for camp.” He said, “You better.” I kept it for camp and the rest is history.
But you shaved it since then.
When I got picked up by Colorado [just prior to last season], I shaved it and they all got mad at me. They had seen it when I played against them in a preseason game in Las Vegas. When they heard the mustache was coming over to their team, they were pretty disappointed that I had shaved it. So, I grew it back and I had it for about a week or so before I got traded here. They’ve loved it so much, it took on a life of its own.
What about the long hair?
I never really grew my hair out too long because coaches never really wanted me to. When I turned pro, I grew it out, and around Christmastime it would get ridiculously long. One year I was going to cut it and I heard about this charity, Locks of Love [which provides hairpieces to children suffering from long-term medical hair loss]. So, I decided to donate it. [Note: Parros donated his hair again earlier this week. Click here for the story and photos.]
What have the Ducks fans been like since you got here?
I love the fans to death. They’ve been great here and I really feel at home. Every time I can get them going, I’m going to try and do so. It’s much appreciated and I’m glad they like what I’m doing. I even heard some kids went as me for Halloween this year. That was pretty cool. Everywhere you go, there are people who like that part of the game and think it’s entertaining. But I haven’t gotten the same level of admiration that I’ve had here. I think the mustache has something to do with that, but whatever it is, I’m glad they like it.