Tuesday, August 26, 2014

George Parros: 7 Autographed Cards

Sometimes, in real life - but also on this blog - I let my cynicism get the best of me. One player I can't do that with is George Parros. He is one of the most likable personalities in the NHL, from his dry sense of humour to his involvement in countless charities (including donating his hair every Christmas to make wigs for cancer-struck kids), to the best mustache in sports, the man is all class.

I had sent him 3 regular-issue cards and two sets of customs (copies he could have kept for himself, which might have been tempting were they nicer-looking!) on May 8th, 2014, and received them all back, signed in black sharpie, with the correct jersey number on each, on August 25th, 2014 - a 110-day return, stamped from California (though originally mailed care of the Montréal Canadiens, so with a Canadian stamp - thanks US Postal).

Originally drafted by the Los Angeles Kings (8th round, 222nd overall) in 1999, the former captain of the Princeton University Tigers didn't just score a goal the first time he made the score sheet, he actually had a ''Gordie Howe Hat Trick'' (a goal, an assist and a fight) against the Dallas Stars. He only played 55 games in L.A. before the Colorado Avalanche took him off the waiver wire, and only played two games for the Avs before they traded him back to California, this time to the Anaheim Ducks.

From his days with the Kings I now have this memento, from Upper Deck's 2006-07 Series 1 set (card #92), sporting jersey #57 of the white variety:

His time in Anaheim was way more memorable, though, as he not only spent the better part of six seasons with the Ducks, but he also won the Stanley Cup with them in 2007. He topped the 100-PIM mark five times in six seasons with the Ducks.

From those seasons, I have these two regular-issue cards by Panini, first wearing the team's black (home) uniform, from the 2010-11 Score collection (card #40 in the set):


And in the white (away) uniform, from the 2011-12 Score set (card #38):


As one of the most respected enforcers of the end of the last decade, Parros endeared himself to fans and teammates alike, which is why I made and included him in the Tough Customer sub-set of my custom Hell's Kitchen 2013-14 Series 1 set (card #TC2):

(He looks just like my godfather in this picture; my godfather's a policeman, not a porn star)
Upon becoming a free agent just about when the lock-out was possible but not yet a certainty, he signed with the Florida Panthers; a year later, he was traded to the Montréal Canadiens, who were looking to add size to their line-up.

He may not have played a lot with the Habs, what with suffering two concussions and being relegated to the press box for the late stages of the season and the playoffs in favour of young prospects, but he stayed focused on the task at hand, trained hard, and supported his teammates as they advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals. And that will be his legacy here, not the injuries, not the media fanfare over his arrival, not the 85 penalty minutes in just 22 games - his being the ultimate teammate, and putting the team ahead of himself, his expiring contract, his chance a proving he deserves another one. It may have actually cost him a season or two and forced his retirement (well, that and the concussions), but he plowed through, and will continue to do so.

He's already at the next level: his charity, Violent Gentlemen, is slated for an exhibition game against the Ducks at the Honda Center in September.

So the off-the-ice reasons are why I chose this picture as my Habs card in my 2013-14 Series 1 set for Hell's Kitchen (card #38):

Big man, huge heart.

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