George Parros: Maybe having a former enforcer run the NHL Department of Player Safety isn’t the best idea

So maybe having a former enforcer with 1092 penalty minutes in just 474 career games run the NHL’s Department of Player Safety isn’t the best idea.

The NHL was under fire even before they issued Tom Wilson a $5000 wrist slap. Calls for a suspension came almost immediately for the repeat offender who already knocked out a player this season with a high and hard hit. Brandon Carlo of the Boston Bruins was concussed by Wilson on March 5th and has played a grand total of three games since. Wilson was suspended for 7 games, which I felt was a strong statement but not strong enough apparently.

Here we are today, and one of the NHL’s top stars in its biggest U.S. market it out for the rest of the season thanks to Wilson’s body slam. The New York Rangers were disappointed in George Parros’ decision to not suspend him for his actions against Artemi Panarin. They issued a statement last night calling for his resignation that has been met favorably by many in the hockey world, save for a handful of old-time hockey enforcers

George Parros was reluctant to suspend Tom Wilson for hitting Brandon Carlo

george parros
May 3, 2021; New York, New York, USA; Tom Wilson #43 of the Washington Capitals yells at the New York Rangers bench after taking a second period penalty at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Bennett/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

When Parros issued Wilson’s suspension for boarding Carlo the NHL DOPS noted that he was “defenseless.” The explanation continued with this head scratching statement, “While there are aspects of this hit that may skirt the line between suspendable and not suspendable, it is the totality of the circumstances that cause this play to merit supplemental discipline.”

For Parros, it appeared he struggled with the decision and only suspended Wilson because the result of the hit was an injury. Although in the case of Panarin, the result of his injury did not matter. In a recent article in The Athletic, Rick Carpiniello reports that Parros was actually not going to suspend Wilson for the hit to Carlo. It was only when Gary Bettman got involved that the suspension came down.

Parros, we’ve heard, didn’t even want to suspend Wilson for the brain-damaging assault on Boston’s Brandon Carlo, who suffered mood changes and blurry vision from his concussion after being hospitalized by Wilson in March. Bettman didn’t like the optics and ordered a suspension. So Wilson got seven games. Before that, he wasn’t even considered a repeat offender, because the CBA erases priors after a certain period of time transpires. Just absurd.

The Athletic

George Parros running NHL Department of Player Safety isn’t the best idea

Brendan Shanahan was the first person ever tapped to run the NHL’s Department of Player Safety when it was formed in 2011. A hard-nosed player with his share of penalty minutes, but he could also play the game skill. In essence, he was the perfect candidate. However, he was also considered to be too tough in discipling players for infractions, but we are a long way from that now.

Parros unfortunately appears way too lenient. Being a former player whose role in the NHL was primarily to muck it up and enforce probably isn’t the best candidate for that position. For all we know, his bias to those that go out and play Tom Wilson’s brand of hockey is a problem. Enough so that the Rangers felt the need to issue a statement calling for his resignation.

NHL needs to fix this

Every person should be treated as an individual and judged by their own actions. But it is Parros’ actions or inaction that are being called into question. A look into the mindset of an old school enforcer can be telling. A prime example is Kelly Chase’s reaction to the Rangers statement. In a tweet about a minor incident between Sidney Crosby and Travis Konecny, he mocks the Rangers.

“The Flyers and Penguins will be issuing a statement later on the dereliction of color commentators using the phrase pile driver and WWE in their assessment of these coincidental minors,” Chase joked. “Therefore somehow blaming NHL DoPS.” The former bruiser with over 2000 PIMs also tagged the Rangers in order to call them out.

It is that mentality which makes sense if you want teams to handle their own disciplinary actions. However, this isn’t the 90’s anymore and the NHL has rules in place that discourage teams from employing guys like Kelly Chase. The NHL wants fighting out of the game, but they also need to step up and deal with incidents like Wilson’s body slam and head shots.

You know it’s really bad when former referee Paul Stewart calls you out on it. “Blaming George Parros for DOPS’ flaws is like blaming Ronald McDonald for the food quality at McDonald’s.” Stewart tweeted. “He’s a figurehead symbol. For those who don’t know: In the NHL, the officiating department and DOPS are under the thumb of the director of hockey ops.” Those comments are probably more scathing than what the Rangers issued yesterday.

Simply put, the NHL needs to fix this situation. Either have a talk with Parros and help him to do his job better or bring in a player who is more along the lines of Brendan Shanahan. It just can’t go on like this anymore.