Interview & meeting with Scott ParkerEurolanche Invasion VI members experienced one of the most memorable meetings ever when they had a chance to visit and talk with legendary Scott Parker.
There is no Colorado Avalanche fan who doesn´t know Scott Parker. Excellent fighter and die-hard player spent six seasons in Denver organization and has become known as a smart and friendly man outside the rink and a great fighter on the ice. Six Eurolanche members spent two weeks in Denver in December 2013 and January 2014. You could read daily updated diaries in several languages at Eurolanche.com and Invasion.Eurolanche.com during this event. Now, after few months after our come back to Europe, there has remained one of the greatest and until now untold story. The meeting with Scott Parker.
Eurolanche Invasion VI members met with Scott in his barbershop Lucky 27 Social Club in Castle Rock, just few miles of Denver. Once we got in the touch with him, he didn´t hesitate, so it was really easy to arrange a meeting with him. When we step in his barbershop, we were amazed. Lucky Social Club 27 is absolutely different place, it is other world and I can tell in the name of all Europeans from Eurolanche that anyone from our group has ever seen something like this before. The Club offers hair cut, shaving and there is also a tattoo studio. In every room of the house you can see Scott Parker´s merchandises. The souvenirs that remind you old, good times from the Avalanche most successful era. There are posters on the walls, old framed stories, jerseys, hockey figures… Just welcome in the Scott Parker and the Avs museum!
After a little tour did by Scott´s son, who is another great person who we met, Scott welcomed us in the living room, sat on the couch and talked as long as we wanted. We asked him a lot of questions about his life, career, fighting, but also some controversies of his career. Finally, he gave us dozens of signatures and took a photo with everyone. We took a group picture outside the barbershop and even Ryan Wilson joined us. Avalanche defenseman was there on the visit as many Avs players before and after. Scott has many friends in the organization.
Before you start to read the full transcript of the interview, find a time and remind the career of one of the greatest persons from the Avalanche, Scott Parker.
Scott Parker was originally drafted by New Jersey Devils in 1996, but with no a contract in his pocket he decided to re-enter draft two years later. Colorado Avalanche picked him up of 20th place in the first round. In that time he was known as a natural fighter as he earned 330 and 243 penalty minutes in the previous two seasons in the WHL. In total, he got 573 penalty minutes in 139 games, but still could score 48 goals and earned 88 points.
For the next five years he remained mainly in the Avs with some appearances in the AHL. He was a member of the 2001 Stanley Champion team and played in four playoffs game that season. He was traded on 2003 to San Jose Sharks for the fifth round pick on the draft and soon suffered concussion that has tremendous impact on his career. He came back to Denver from San Jose for the sixth round pick for the seasons 2006/07 and 2007/08. Official press release stated he refused to play for the AHL team in 2007, so the Avs terminated his contract. After that Parker, nicknamed The Sheriff, didn´t get any offers from the NHL teams and has decided to retire in 2009.
Do you remember the very first fight of your life?
I do actually, and it wasn’t really even a fight on my end. I was in Junior B hockey in the KIJHL playing for the Spokane Braves and I had grown 4 inches that summer so I kind of, you know sprouted up and everyone just wanted to pick on me. I was like, why does everyone wanna pick on me? I’m a nice guy, and this 20-year-old guy just dropped his mitts and just started hittin’ me. I looked over at the bench and everyone was saying, “Drop your mitts and get him!” Something flipped in me and I just dropped my mitts and grabbed the guy. Just picked him up with one hand off the ice and just started throwing them around… I was ANGRY so, yeah that was kind of the start of everything and, it’s kind of crazy as you watch TV and these people fight for 5 minutes and I just hit this guy once and he just went down and I was like, “Wow! I’m superhuman!” So… yeah, just little things like that that kinda got me started.
Did you always want to be a fighter or did you have no choice?
Not really, I mean… I don’t think anyone really signs up to be, you know an enforcer or that role. I mean you definitely like to play, you like to get the opportunity, you like to help the team however you can so, I just kind of evolved into that role because of the team we had back in the day. When I went to the Avs we didn’t really have room for another goal scorer or anything like that, so I just did the job that I could and kept the boys safe so we could get the job done.
Do you sometimes regret that you became a fighter?
No, I wouldn’t say regret, I’d say if I had to do it all over again the one thing I would stop would be the shot I took in the eye socket I took back in ‘05 when I was playing for the Sharks, and then, other than that, I mean, I think everyone wishes they could’ve gotten a little more opportunity but, you know I’ve got a Stanley Cup ring and I know guys that played for 17,18, 19 years who never even got to the finals so I’m fortunate enough to be apart of that and have good stories to tell.
So, that shot you took stop your career?
No, it just inhibited me and started my downfall, because every fight I got into after that I was just, I mean you could throw a toothpick at me and it would knock me out sometimes. So it was just, it just kind of… you know knocked me off my mountain. After that I was just trying to figure everything out.
Once you were a feared enforcer, how did you feel at the beginning of every fight?
It really depended on the situation. I would tell guys “I might not get you this game, I might not get you next game, I might not get you this year, but I’m gonna get you.” So, I mean, I remember getting guys two years later and sometimes I’d miss the opportunity later because some teams we only played once a year. Like the east coast teams we only played once, so, if they did something stupid and I’m not able to get retribution then, then I gotta wait sometimes two or three years, and, you know it kind of sucks but, it’s something I don’t forget and, you know part of it is you just gotta plant the seed and you just gotta do crazy stuff from time to time.
Were there any players you were ever afraid to fight? Like players you had the most respect for?
Definitely Bob Probert, he was my second or third fight. I had asked him earlier in the game and he said “Kid, come on, we will see how this game goes and then talk later.” It was in the third period, I think we were winning 4:1 and I feel this tap – it’s Proby asking if I want to go. I grabbed underneath his armpit, he got his right arm free and hit me in the temple a couple times and knocked me down. I don’t really remember much of it. I got back up and started choking him out. I don’t remember much, I know the most part from watching the fight tape.
Who was your first fight with?
Tony Twist was my first NHL fight and Kevin Westgarth was my last. It was kind of like Proby passing the torch to me and me passing it to Westy as new generations come through. You just have to give them a chance. Keep the role going, because if it dies off it all just turns into a bunch of fluffy hockey instead of it being aggressive.
You were scratched in the final game of the 2001 playoffs.
The only games I played in the playoffs that year were against Vancouver when we swept them 4-0. I just sat the rest of the time. I did my job against Brashear and Jovanovski and that whole crew and kept everyone safe and healthy for the next round. We were good to go.
How long was the party after winning the Cup?
About 4 or 5 days. I don’t remember much of it but yeah, it was good. The whole town was just like when you came back from the war and war was over and confetti was going off. People were just cheering and happy. It was crazy to just be a part of and to have a ring to show for it.
Where do you keep your ring?
In a secret place. I don’t wear it too much, but on occasion I’ll wear it out.
What are your memories of the rivalry with Detroit?
Honestly, I wasn’t up for the big brawl they had. Unfortunately, I was in Hershey at the time. I got called up after that. It was always fun to play those games because you knew what to expect. Everyone is always like “Oh, you must hate the Red Wings,” but I am like “I love the Red Wings,” because I knew exactly what I was going to get into. It was those games you got up for that were just big games.
I read a story about you that before you got a new contract from the Avalanche, you disappeared somewhere and then just parked your truck in front of Pepsi Center.
Actually, I was driving a tow truck. I didn´t have a contract. They called me to the rink to sign my contract. I had my overall and work shirt.
Do you think there are no more classic fighters like you in the NHL now?
It’s just different. There are so many rules – you can’t take off the helmet, you can’t look wrong at someone. You can’t tickle him in a fight… it’s just so stupid now. They’re taking the fighting out of fighting. As I said in an interview earlier this year, it isn’t fighting that’s causing so many injuries. Look at me; it was the puck that took me out. What are you going to do? Put padding on everything?
Didn’t you want to play in the AHL after your career was over?
In my last fight against Westy, I hit him as hard as I could. He was like me when I was young. You just feel like you’re invincible. You have to think like that and just go for it. You go through the walls; you do whatever you have to do to keep the job. Unfortunately, digression happens and the more blows you take to the head, the longer it takes to heal. It’s just part of the role. Basically, Westy threw an uppercut and caught me. I was semi-concussed from that. I flew back to Denver and played the Stars. Daley was in the corner as I dumped the puck. I only remember this from the tapes, but after he hit me I was just gone. When I regained my senses I just started fighting everyone I could find and grab. I was spearing the goalie and stuff like that. I was fighting 4 players at the time. Unfortunately, it’s just like this nowadays. I miss the old days, when players always used to drop their mitts and just grab a guy. In those scrums, you were asking about the wife and kids, what were they going to do after. It wasn’t like you hated the guy; you were just protecting the other person involved in the whole thing to not get jumped or to get overtaken. It was a team effort.
When someone hit a big star of the team, did you just hit someone who wasn’t fighting the next year? Did it create some kind of respect, like sending a message to the other team that they can’t do this?
Yeah, exactly – you do it to me, I’ll do this to you. I always told teams not to touch Peter or Joe. I once told Vancouver that I’ll go after Naslund, that I’d break his leg and use it as a toothpick. You plant a seed with stuff like this. You have to start doing your job early in your career when you want to get that kind of respect. From there on you’re just trying to keep opposing players at bay.
Were you pumped up before starting a fight?
Oh yeah. I had butterflies sometimes. It wasn’t always adrenaline. Sometimes you were like “What am I getting myself into?” I’d say 99% of the time I was ready. There were some times that you weren’t really in the game. There were times I just let the other guy hit me a couple of times before realizing what I was actually doing. I always wanted my opponent to fight my fight.
Were there times your coach told you that they need a game changer, that they needed you to fight a guy?
Bob Hartley would sometimes tap me on the shoulder to do stuff like this although he never wanted to admit it. I knew my role, I knew what I needed to do. Sometimes the coaches were telling me to be proactive and I was like “How am I going to do this without you giving me a shift?” I was always trying to do my job the best I could.
You once said that a guy came up to you during a preseason game wanting to fight you needing penalty minutes to get to the NHL. Was it really like this?
It’s just like the story between Gino Odjick and Marty McSorley. Marty was the big boy and Gino was coming up in Vancouver. Gino came to Marty telling him if he wouldn’t do this the Canucks would send him down. Marty was okay with the whole thing and they threw down. That’s just the role. You aren’t just looking out for your team. You’re also looking out for other people in the same role as you, because when they aren’t around anymore you kind of die off. You don’t want to be the last big bull in the field. You were once at the exact same point as the kid asking you to do this.
So was fighting just for show?
Not exactly. Sometimes things would just happen, like when you were up by two goals and an opposing guy would come around telling you that he needs to do something. It was always better than them wanting to run over Joe, Peter, Hejduk or Tanguay, because I didn’t want them to get hurt.
So you’re saying that sometimes it’s more like a gentlemen’s agreement?
Exactly. There’s a huge respect factor in the crew of fighters in general. You know what it takes to get the job done and the other guy knows it too.
Was fighting friends different than fighting guys you didn’t like?
Honestly? I fought friends and we would throw down. It was like we didn’t know each other. It was just part of the job. Some guys you wouldn’t even know, like 20-something year old guys that were new to the league, like I was at the time I fought Proby. They would just come over and tap you on the shoulder and you just waited for the right time to get something going with them.
What are your thoughts on the Steve Moore and Todd Bertuzzi incident?
I think it was blown out of proportion. I never really got along with Moore and I also know Bertuzzi and I know he’s still dealing with the whole thing, that he’s still getting booed and stuff like that that’s still hanging over his head.
What do you think of Patrick Bordeleau?
He’s doing well. He’s putting points up and that’s the biggest thing, to play the whole role – being good on the defense, being good in the neutral zone and being good in the offensive zone. You don’t want to be a minus player, you don’t want to be a liability while on the ice. He’s getting the job done.
What did your teammates tell you after a fight? Were they thankful?
Oh yeah. It was almost always a big momentum change for them.
The questions were asked by the Eurolanche Invasion VI members. Michal Hezely, Tony Caya and David Puchovsky contributed to the transcription and the translation of it to European languages.
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19/06/2014 - 22:00