George Parros’ mustache is more famous than George Parros’ wrist shot but that’s fine with him.
“My No. 1 priority is making it onto an NHL roster,” Parros told the Montreal Gazette last August. Unfortunately, the time has come for George Parros and the NHL to part ways. Today, the NHLPA made the announcement that George Parros has formally retired. He has been an NHL free agent ever since his contract with the Montreal Canadiens expired on July 1st, 2014.
Growing up in Morristown, New Jersey, all Parros wanted to do was be a hockey player. His 12-year career took from the East Coast, to the West Coast, back to the East Coast, and then finally to “La Metropole du Quebec.” Along the way, he racked up 36 points and 1,092 PIM in 474 career games split between the Los Angeles Kings, Colorado Avalanche, Anaheim Ducks, and Canadiens. His impressive professional fight card can be seen here.
Parros was drafted in the eighth round in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft after playing for the Chicago Freeze in the NAHL, a tier-2 junior league in the United States. The Kings made him their ninth pick, and 222nd overall in the draft, that year after he proved to be an effective power forward for the Freeze. He would spend the next four seasons with Princeton University where he had 52 points in 111 games and graduated with a degree in Economics. His popularity and leadership also earned him the honor of being named captain for his senior season.
After he finished his last season for Princeton, Parros joined the Kings’ AHL affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs. He played in their final nine games of the 2002-03 season and got his first taste of what the second highest hockey league in the world was like. Parros spent the next two years in Manchester with a short stint in the ECHL before making his NHL debut on October 5th, 2005 and scored his first goal two weeks later against the Dallas Stars. He finished his rookie season with five points and 138 PIM in 55 games.
Almost exactly a year after making his NHL debut, Parros was waived by the Kings and claimed by the Avalanche who felt they could use his size and toughness in their lineup. His time in the Burgundy and Blue was short lived and a month later was traded to the Anaheim Ducks for a second round pick.
For Parros, this was a blessing in disguise as he joined a talented Ducks team that would go on and win their first and only Stanley Cup in franchise history. Although he only played 32 games for the Ducks that year, he suited up for the team in five playoff games.
After winning the Cup with the Ducks, Parros signed two more contracts with Anaheim and spent the next five years in Southern California where he became an instant fan favorite. In total, Parros played 356 games during his 6-season tenure. He racked up an astonishing 812 PIM, most of them through fighting majors.
All good things must come to an end and on July 1st, 2012, Parros signed a two-year contract with the Panthers who were in desperate need of someone to protect their young players. Unfortunately for both parties, Parros showed that Father Time was catching up with him and he was in the twilight of his career. He only played 39 games for the Panthers before being traded to Montreal for a prospect and a late draft pick.
In the 2013-14 season opener against the Canadiens rival, the Toronto Maple Leafs, Parros lost his balance in the middle of a fight and came crashing down onto the ice headfirst. The entire arena was silent as Parros was carted off the ice. It was a scary moment and injected more gasoline into an already burning debate about the future of fighting in hockey. Parros sustained another concussion when he returned a little over two months later and only played in 22 games in his 2013-14 campaign due to injuries and being scratched from the lineup.
While with the Ducks, Parros would use his popular facial hair feature to raise money for charity. “George Parros Mustaches” were sold at the team stores and all proceeds were donated to charity. Parros was also a big supporter of The Garth Brooks Teammates for Kids Foundation, an inner-city outreach program aimed at helping kids’ education and health.
Parros also brought his tradition of donating his hair to the Locks of Love charity organization from the Monarchs to the Ducks. Every year, he would grow his hair out to the appropriate length and then cut it so that it could be used to make wigs for children who have lost their hair due to various medical conditions.
In addition, Parros was a familiar face at many charity events wherever he played.
Future after retirement
The NHL and Parros might be finished, but Parros will never be finished with hockey and hockey will never be finished with him. He is the perfect ambassador for the game and his charm and charisma makes it easy for him to connect with fans. For now, Parros plans to settle down in Las Vegas with his wife and two children.
Just for fun, here is a video from five years of Parros versus a sumo wrestler.
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