George Parros' mustache is one of the most iconic figures in the National Hockey League. (Sarah Fuqua)
There is a leader in the Anaheim Ducks locker room.
It is neither a player, nor is it a coach. No – this leader is on the face of enforcer George Parros.
The 6’5″ Parros, a graduate of Princeton University, has grown one of the most iconic mustaches in modern North American sport.
“It’s burly,” Parros said. “It’s manly. It demands respect.”
With “Movember” starting on November 1, players and staff around the National Hockey League will be growing mustaches to help raise money for prostate cancer research. The entire Anaheim Ducks roster, including a clean-shaven Parros, will be participating.
“He doesn’t let us not grow one,” Anaheim goaltender Dan Ellis said.
On the ice, Parros hardly resembles an Ivy League graduate. An enforcer, Parros has racked up 879 penalty minutes in 377 games with the Ducks, Avalanche and Kings. However, his mustache draws far more attention than his fights do.
His mustache, however, made its debut on Parros’ face after the NHL lockout.
“I grew it out like six years ago for a trip to Vegas and it kind of stuck ever since,” Parros said.
Parros, whose Twitter handle @stache16 is an homage to the property on his face, is obviously is not the first hockey player ever to wear a mustache. Parros’ mustache harkens back to a golden age in hockey facial hair.
“Hockey has a rich history of mustaches,” Parros said. “It’s an homage to all those guys in the 70′s and 80′s.”
While players like Lanny McDonald and Wendel Clark having mustaches that can only be deemed as legendary, Parros’s mustache inspiration played 999 major league hockey games in the NHL and WHA with the Houston Aeros, Winnipeg Jets, Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings, Pittsburgh Penguins and Minnesota North Stars.
“Terry Ruskowski had a pretty mean mustache and didn’t get the credit he deserved for it,” Parros said.
For Parros, he has become somewhat of a subject matter expert on the mustache. The Anaheim Ducks sell fake George Parros mustaches (Snoop Dogg has been seen wearing one) and Parros has his line of merchandise – stachegear.com – which benefits the Childhood Leukemia Foundation and the Garth Brooks Teammates for Kids Foundation.
Several players, team staff members and fans will be trying to grow mustaches during the month of November for the first time. Parros, however, keeps his mustache growing secrets somewhat close to the vest. When it comes to grooming, Parros believes that one should find their own path.
“It’s a personal matter,” Parros said. “I don’t groom too much. Some guys like to groom a lot. I’m okay with either one. I’ve groomed before and I’ll groom again. However, I usually let it grow pretty wild.”
“If I get some stray hairs that curl up in my nose, I’ll trim it,” Parros said.
Up close, Parros’ mustache looks almost like a steel brush. The hairs are deceptively long. For a guy who makes his living punching other players in the face and getting punched in the face, his mustache seems to provide almost an unfair advantage.
When creating his facial art, Parros prefers to go straight into the mustache rather than grow a beard and then shave it into a mustache. In fact, Parros admits that he surprisingly has difficulty growing a beard.
“The supporting cast isn’t that strong, but it makes its way to the face sometimes,” Parros said. “Usually I keep the rest of the face trimmed, but you wouldn’t be able to tell either way. I have a pretty weak beard.”
Parros’ teammate, goaltender Jonas Hiller, is still unsure of whether or not he will be growing a mustache.
“I haven’t decided,” Hiller said. “I originally planned not to and instead to wear the mask. No one sees it and it’s itchy and bothers me anyway, but now with everyone else doing it I almost have to grow one.”
The mask Hiller refers to is a specially designed Movember mask which he plans to debut against Washington on November 1. The mask features headshots of every Anaheim roster player with a mustache drawn onto each player’s face.
“It’s amazing,” Parros said “It’s incredible. I’m glad he did it. He’s probably not growing a mustache with us this year, but he did that which draws just as much attention, if not more, than anything we could do.”
Hiller also admits that there is another reason he might not be growing a mustache during Movember.
“You can probably see the one on the mask better than the one I would grow,” Hiller said.
Parros, however, offers a final bit of advice to potential mustache growers in situations like Hiller’s.
“Everyone’s able,” Parros said. “Whether or not he can grow a successful one is a different story.”