The Fighting Duck
Stanley Cup favorite Anaheim is by far the NHL's most pugnacious team, led by George Parros, its Princeton-educated goon
Posted: Tuesday February 6, 2007 8:35AM; Updated: Tuesday February 6, 2007 8:35AM
The most improbable heavyweight in the National Hockey League wears a Boogie Nights mustache, speaks passable Spanish and graduated from Princeton in 2003 with a 3.16 grade point average and a degree in economics. George Parros is not the most famous pugnacious Princetonian -- former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld wrestled there in the early 1950s -- but the university is not exactly a haven for the cap-and-goon set. If throwing punches during hockey games seems an odd way for an Ivy Leaguer to make a living, it is no more bizarre than the careers of classmates whom Parros says are now in "I-banking," investment bankers who put in 15-hour days and sleep in their offices. Through Sunday, Parros had played 19 games and averaged 4:41 minutes of ice time this season. If he dresses for 18 of his team's final 30 games and ramps up his ice time to five minutes, he'll play 180 minutes this season. For Parros, earning the NHL minimum of $450,000, that's $150,000 an hour. Take that to the I-bank.
Parros is employed by the Anaheim Ducks, a.k.a. the Fight Club. The Ducks, who led the Pacific Division and were the class of the NHL until injuries struck their three best defensemen and No. 1 goalie in December, do not merely lead the league in fights. They have lapped the field. Anaheim had 51 fighting majors at week's end, 21 more than second-place Nashville and St. Louis. Eleven Ducks have been in scraps this season, including star defenseman Chris Pronger, who fought in his first game back, Jan. 28, after missing nine games with a broken foot. Parros is tied with rookie defenseman Shane O'Brien for the team lead, with 11 fights; fourth-line wing Shawn Thornton has nine.
"We're never going to play without a heavyweight [because] I need to provide a fear-free environment for my skill guys," says Brian Burke, Anaheim's G.M. "But the main reason we have a lot of fighting majors is that we're committed to a style that leads to [fights]. We prize contact. If you forecheck and bang like we do, sometimes [opponents] turn around and you have to answer the bell. I won't apologize for that.... In our bottom six forwards, we look for the requisite level of pugnacity, truculence, belligerence, hostility and testosterone."
The Chuckin' Ducks fight not only during the regular season but also in the playoffs, often a No Fight zone. Anaheim had fighting majors in all three rounds in 2006, including five in a seven-game first-rounder against Calgary. Burke could not have expressed his take on hockey any more eloquently than he did when he acquired Parros on Nov. 13, trading a second-round pick to Colorado and flopped third-rounders to get a right wing who through Sunday had two goals and three assists in 74 career games.
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