George Parros skated in South Florida on Friday for the first time since signing with the Panthers in July.
Parros has been a little busy.
The 33-year-old enforcer best known for his full black mustache was part of the NHL Players’ Association negotiating committee that helped end the lockout.
Alongside players like Shane Doan, Brad Richards and Martin St. Louis, Parros sat at the bargaining table with union boss Donald Fehr working toward a deal.
Parros, a Princeton graduate with a degree in economics, said Friday that this “was a long, frustrating summer,” but he would go back in a minute if he was needed.
The league and the NHLPA agreed on a 10-year deal last Sunday at 5 a.m. The pact is expected to be approved by the 740-member association by Saturday, allowing training camps to open up around the league Sunday.
“I’m just glad this is behind us so we can get back on the ice,” said Parros, who will be starting his eighth NHL season after playing the past seven years in Anaheim. “It’s going to be a quick season here, a short camp. There’s not a lot of time to gel. But I’m certainly looking forward to the fresh start and a great season here.”
Parros joins a long list of recent Panthers enforcers that include the likes of heavies Wade Belak, Steve MacIntyre, Darcy Hordichuk, Matt Bradley and Krys Barch.
More than fists
The Panthers, however, hope Parros can be strong not only with his fists but with his stick as well.
In 413 games, Parros has 17 goals and 16 assists. He recorded a career-high10 points in 74 games with the Ducks in 2008-09.
“It’s great having him on the team because you always know his presence is there,” said Peter Mueller, who played against Parros while with Phoenix and Colorado.
“He’s a player with skill, and that’s good to have when he’s out there on shifts. In a short season like this, not every enforcer is going to go looking for fights. So it’s nice he can play at a high level and make things happen. He’s a smart player. He doesn’t just run around and start stuff. He can put the puck in the net.”
Coach Kevin Dineen knows Parros from Anaheim training camps and the Ducks’ Stanley Cup run from when Dineen was a coach in the Ducks’ minor-league system.
“He brings characteristics every team needs, like leadership and a quality of character we want around our players,” Dineen said Friday morning.
“He understands the nature of the game and how he can bring his best to a team. We need some depth in our lineup and will need some secondary scoring. I expect him to understand his role and try and expand it.”
Parros played with a handful of his new teammates in the past, although his entire career has been played in the Western Conference. With a shortened 48-game season, the Panthers will not leave the Eastern Conference this season.
Parros said he isn’t worried about making that adjustment from west to east.
“It’ll be interesting,” he said. “We’ll see what happens. It may take some adjustment.”
Parros joined Mike Santorelli and Keaton Ellerby as the latest members of the Panthers to make it to South Florida and hit the ice with their teammates.
The only veteran regulars who have yet to report — not including those playing for Florida’s AHL team in San Antonio — are defensemen Filip Kuba and Dmitry Kulikov. Kuba has been working out in the Tampa Bay area; Kulikov is a restricted free agent.
The practice Saturday, which is open to the public, is expected to have a light turnout with training camp opening Sunday.