5 Ramifications from Injury to Montreal Canadiens Enforcer George Parros
When the Montreal Canadiens acquired George Parros last July, many hoped he’d make a huge impact with the Habs right away. Just not like this...anything but this—him getting concussed when his head hits the ice in a fight with Toronto Maple Leaf Colton Orr.
It was unlikely that a guy whose career high in goals was five would do anything positive with his hands other than fight.
However, this is a guy who, at 6’5”, 228 pounds, lent instant credibility and protection to a lineup that last year averaged less than 200 pounds and just a hair over six feet. If one were to take into account just the forward group and not include the team’s slightly larger defense, those numbers would skew much lower.
It’s kind of funny, in a sense. Many take enforcers for granted while only a select few would have predicted Parros, a guy who makes a living doling out and taking repeated blows to the head, would already be out with a concussion, especially so soon after making his Habs debut.
And yet here we are.
Now, even with Parros apparently well on the road to recovery, according to NHL.com, what’s gone down has gone down, and there’s little going back.
Here are five possible ramifications from the injury to Parros:
5) Short-Lived Spike in Anti-Fight Chatter
As many fans may have already noticed, there’s been an unusual increase in the amount of anti-fight rhetoric in the media in recent days. It’s probably not that much of a coincidence, all things considered.
While the debate on fighting and whether or not it belongs in hockey will rage on, this latest spike in chatter won’t.
It will die down once something more interesting to the general public comes along—an injury to a star from something just as preventable, like a high stick by a visor. And then that will inevitably be usurped by a highlight-reel goal or news of a particularly interesting game that.
Obviously, Parros deserves better.
As does the plausibly valid argument that hockey can get by just fine without two barely passable hockey players dropping all their hockey equipment and tiring themselves out not playing hockey for a few minutes before not playing hockey again for five more minutes in the penalty box.
Admittedly, that’s a rather simplistic take on a pretty complex issue.
This article is not meant to serve as an anti-fighting platform but instead bring up ramifications of the incident, relevant to the Montreal Canadiens, that few others are willing to talk about...
4) Potential End to Parros’ Career
Parros’ career coming to an end is obviously not for certain at this point, nor has it really been discussed, perhaps in the hope that Parros will recover. That still doesn’t make this particular ramification any less possible, however hard it might be to bring up.
Let’s look at the facts.
Parros will be 34 years old in December. That’s not old by any stretch of the imagination. Consider, though, that Orr was 28 when he suffered much the same injury in 2011...fighting Parros of all people.
It took Orr the remaining 36 games of that season to recover, and he only went on to play five games the following year, although that last point may admittedly have more to do with him being Colton Orr than anything else.
In any case, Parros is unfortunately not that far off in terms of skill (or lack thereof). That means his on-ice contributions are relatively limited to intimidating the opposition as a larger-than-life, mustachioed villain straight out of a Dudley Do-Right cartoon.
And when that fails—because it always will—he has to resort to punching them repeatedly in the face.
An unfortunate side effect of that is getting punched right back.
It seems kind of cruel to cheer Parros back to health just so he can risk getting concussed yet again. This is a guy, after all, who, according to hockeyfights.com, has already fought 141 times in the NHL—and that’s only the regular season! More importantly, this is a guy with a family.
As already mentioned, Parros is 34. If it takes him the better part of a year to recover like it took Orr, how many more good ones will he have left as a hockey enforcer? How many of those would he rather spend with his wife and kids?
Ironically, this incident that resulted in him being knocked out could serve as a wake-up call of sorts and prompt him to hang up his skates. It’s sad to say, but still may be for the best.
3) Habs Acquire Another Enforcer
Getting lost in all the talk of Parros getting concussed last Tuesday is the fact that it was during his second fight of the night, the first of which (also against Orr) Parros won pretty handily.
It was a fight prompted by a hit on Habs forward Max Pacioretty earlier in the game. That kind of hints at an overriding need for an enforcer, especially seeing as Pacioretty is 6’2”, 217-pounds and the team’s biggest forward next to Parros.
If he isn’t able to stand up for himself, what realistic chance does the 5’7”, 170-pound David Desharnais have? The 5’9”, 174-pound Daniel Briere? The 5’7”, 176-pound Brian Gionta? The 5’9”, 180-pound Brendan Gallagher?
These are all valuable players to the Habs and, like fighting or not, general manager Marc Bergevin needs to take out an insurance policy to protect his investments.
Of course, these are all people and not goods meant to be bought and sold, but, then again, Bergevin was able to trade for Parros, let’s not forget. He got him for pretty cheap too, a seventh-round selection and a prospect named Philippe Lefebvre who’s a long shot to make the NHL.
It remains to be seen how long Parros will be out, and, as indicated in the previous slide, if he will even return to the lineup. In the unfortunate instance that he’s placed on long-term injured reserve, some space under the salary cap will be opened up.
If Bergevin truly believes his team needs added muscle, he might very realistically go the free agency or trade route to replace Parros. Of course, there’s always the alternative and more financially sound option of looking from within the organization…
2) Turning to Michael Blunden
Obviously, Hamilton Bulldog Michael Blunden is not Plan A here.
His lack of playing ability—all due respect to Ryan White—makes the latter look like a legitimate threat (on the scoreboard, of course; White is already a legitimate threat to his and everyone else’s personal safety).
Blunden, having been selected in the second round of the 2005 NHL entry draft, is almost reason enough to bring into question former Chicago Blackhawks general manager Dale Tallon’s drafting ability—and he built a Stanley Cup championship team from the ground up!
Nevertheless, Blunden is 6’4” and an easy short-term option to replace Parros; that is, if Bergevin decides it’s even necessary with the likes of Brandon Prust, Travis Moen and White still healthy (well, physically, in the specific case of the latter, at least).
One cause for concern would be the fact that in one playoff game last year, Blunden registered zero hits. Lars Eller? The non-physical guy who played just half a game before getting laid out by Ottawa Senator Eric Gryba and whom Blunden was meant to, for lack of a better term, avenge?
He had two.
Suffice it to say, however easy it would be to call him up from the American Hockey League, Blunden shouldn’t even be Plan B.
1) Maintaining the Status Quo
Here the Habs are, one game into the 2013-14 season, and they’re arguably exactly where they were at the end of 2013—ripe to be picked on.
Parros is out of the lineup. Their most physical defenseman, Alexei Emelin, is obviously still injured. The 6’3”, 240-pound Douglas Murray, whom the Habs signed to replace Emelin, is also out.
Hell, even the 6’2”, 219-pound Davis Drewiske, a player who was only meant to see the ice from the press box, somehow got his shoulder injured for a month—probably from looking over it so often to see the long line of players moving ahead of him on the team’s depth chart.
However, looks can be deceiving, and the Habs are far from in bad shape. Ideally, yes, Parros, Murray and Emelin would be healthy (Drewiske? Considering his injury opened the door for the 6’6”, 227-pound Jarred Tinordi, the Habs could probably stand him staying injured a little while longer).
Still, none of the team’s stars are out. And there’s one key difference this year relative to last.
Aside from Tinordi being given an extended shot to play with Montreal, center Michael Bournival gives the Habs an above-average, albeit still undersized option to center the team’s fourth line. The injury to Parros opens the door for him to prove he’s got what it takes.
Bournival, projected to turn out to be little more than a second-liner at best, is not the team’s savior.
In all honesty, with him being just 5’11” and 196 pounds, White will realistically get the nod over him against the Philadelphia Flyers this Saturday night. Bournival is nonetheless representative of something bigger (no, not 85 percent of the NHL—something else).
It’s almost as if the hockey gods are trying to send Montreal a message here, not to tempt fate and maintain the team’s longstanding skill-over-size identity. That doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing, especially if it gives deserving players the opportunity to prove they belong.
This isn’t meant to diminish what a healthy Parros means to the team.
It’s an attempt to see the silver lining in what is by all accounts an unfortunate situation. Rather than tempt fate, the Habs should just accept theirs for the time being and embrace the skill that they’ve got at their disposal.
They’ve still got sufficient toughness in Prust, Moen and Bouillon and “crazy” in White. Add in Tinordi, and the Habs could be far worse off. Some minor line shuffling would be the easiest, most likely option here.
It also makes the most sense.
This is no time to overreact and devote an entire slideshow to the impact of the Parros injury on the team as a whole. Bergevin doesn’t need to pull the trigger on a move right away. He needs to see how this team pulls together in light of this recent unfortunate incident.
Bournival, who scored four goals and one assist in six preseason games, will likely get his shot thanks to this sudden rash of injuries to the team’s big men. Saying it’s for the best would be in bad taste and disrespectful to Parros. But there is nonetheless some good that can come out of this mess.