The NHL has made a shift in their department of player safety. The league announced Thursday that former NHL player George Parros would be hired as the new senior vice president of player safety to replace Stephan Quintal who will be stepping down to pursue other opportunities – though he will remain with the department of player safety for the time being to help during the transition period. Formerly in the role, as many will remember, was former Red Wings-star and current president of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Brendan Shanahan.
George Parros named Senior Vice President of Player Safety. https://t.co/2cRTUjZwJ4
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) September 7, 2017
Parros spent parts of nine seasons in the NHL after being selected with the 222nd overall pick in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, winning a Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007. Playing in 474 games, Parros scored only 18 goals and 36 points while failing to record a point in 19 playoff games split across four separate seasons. What Parros did bring to each team he played for, however, was strong character and a level of physicality that allowed his teammates to feel safe on the ice.
While the days of the enforcer are quickly fading in the NHL, Parros was one of the best during his time in the league split between the Los Angeles Kings, Colorado Avalanche (for two games), Anaheim Ducks, Florida Panthers and finally the Montreal Canadiens. Accumulating 1,092 penalty minutes in his career, including six seasons with over 100 penalty minutes (and two above 170), Parros made his mark in the league despite his skill deficiencies. Now retired, Parros is looking to make his mark in the league and make a living in a much different way than the way he did on the ice.
Parros Looking to Keep NHL Players Safe
Now that he’s sitting on the other side of the table, Parros is looking to keep NHL players safe. While he may not be against physical play, he certainly has strong opinions on some of the aspects of the game that are safety concerns for the players involved.
“We used to be worried about headhunting and major things like that,” Parros said. “Now we’re worried about slashing and some more minor infractions, you might say. So the game’s in a good place. There doesn’t need to be a huge shake-up, a huge change in philosophy.”
While Parros doesn’t necessarily think a big shift in the culture or philosophy of the game is necessary to assist in player safety, he does believe that minor aspects of the game can be changed for the better. Infractions that may seem minor, but that are not necessary to the sport or the experience.
Parros Coming Down on Slashing
“I’ve always thought that they could have been a bit harsher on certain plays that I felt where clearly someone intended to do something that was away from the play, had nothing to do with the game and no benefit other than to disable or hurt a person,” Parros said. “Just trying to go a little bit harder on those, because I felt it’s been soft in some instances.”
Parros went into detail with Greg Wyshynski of Puck Daddy on the sort of things he was looking to change and how they would make the league better. The full interview can be found here and highlights the aims of the 37-year-old’s plans to crack down on slashing – especially those of the non-hockey-play variety.
I use the term “greater scrutiny” with slashing, because we had 791 slashing minors last season. We know we’re not going to be suspending, or even penalizing, all the infractions. But we’re going to be paying closer attention to them. We’re going to eliminate guys who are repeatedly, with force, slashing guys on the fingertips and slashing guys away from the play. When a guy has the puck on his stick, and they’re slashing the hands, we’re going to be taking a look at that closer.
That doesn’t mean we have a hard and fast rule, but we’re going to try and eliminate those ones.
Giving Parros a Chance
At the end of the day, there is going to be scrutiny about a player who has accumulated so many penalty minutes and who made a name for himself as an enforcer in the league now running the player safety department. It’s going to be an adjustment for all involved – from the department to the players and everyone in between. Still, given the fact that Parros has lived and breathed that side of the game, he deserves the opportunity to try and keep the game safe in his new role with the league. Though his history in the league speaks for itself, it’s also the perfect prerequisite for him to be involved in decision-making for player safety.
Brandon Share-Cohen has covered the NHL and various professional sports for six years. Working with The Hockey Writers, Brandon works extensively on covering the Boston Bruins in addition to his role as the News Team Lead.