George Parros may be retired from the NHL, but that hasn't diminished his excitement that his hometown will have a franchise in the League beginning next season.
The forward, who played 474 regular-season games in nine seasons in the League with the Los Angeles Kings, Colorado Avalanche, Anaheim Ducks, Florida Panthers and Montreal Canadiens, lives in Las Vegas.
"This is a great sports town," Parros said at a charity event in Las Vegas on Saturday. "This is going to be a great hockey market."
Las Vegas was awarded an NHL franchise on June 22 and will begin play in the 2017-18 season at T-Mobile Arena. George McPhee was hired as general manager on July 13, and the team hopes to have a nickname, logo and color scheme soon.
"I like to stay close to hockey," Parros said. "I'm trying to figure out my life in the hockey world here. It's very exciting to have a team come to town."
Minnesota Wild forward Jason Zucker is the only current NHL player from Nevada, and the Las Vegas resident continues to champion the growth of hockey in the desert. He and Parros joined Calgary Flames defenseman Deryk Engelland and former NHL players and city residents Eric Lacroix and Gabe Gauthier for the fourth annual Las Vegas Firefighters Youth Hockey Foundation charity game, which also benefited the family of Wesley Payton, a 7-year-old who died of leukemia Aug. 11.
"I love supporting the Vegas community in any way that I can," said Zucker, who was born in Newport Beach, Calif., but moved with his family to Las Vegas as an infant. "Most people don't realize that there's hockey here. It's fun to be able to talk to them and maybe open their eyes a little bit. But it is a good hockey community."
Prizes including a signed jersey and stick from Engelland, an autographed stick from Zucker, and an autographed Mario Lemieux jersey were raffled at the charity event. The money raised will benefit LVFYH, a nonprofit organization that helps low-income children play hockey.
"It's another way we can give back to the community," Engelland said. "They do it for a good cause; a cause I would like to help out with people that maybe cannot afford hockey or equipment. It promotes the game for us."
The charity is significant to Zucker, who considers himself a role model for the hockey community in the Las Vegas area.
"It's something that I've worked hard for that I want to give back to the community with," Zucker said. "It's exciting. It's always fun to see new kids come in and enjoy the game."
Half the proceeds this year went to help the family of Payton, who battled acute-myeloid leukemia for 14 months before dying earlier this month.
"It's tough to see that," Engelland said. "I have two boys of my own. It kind of hit home for me. Anything I can do to help the family, I am glad to do."
Engelland's White Team defeated Zucker's Red Team 11-10.