Getty ImagesScott Parker was always a fascinating character. He was a hulking, elite enforcer in the NHL from 1998-2008 with the Colorado Avalanche and San Jose Sharks; a tattooed heavyweight (6-5, 240) that embodied his role as The Sheriff. He looked as if an extra from "Sons of Anarchy" had been asked to fill in at forward that night. (You know, if "SoA" had been a thing back in the early 2000s.)
In retirement, he's still fascinating. Parker and his wife have opened a barber shop called Lucky 27 Social Club in downtown Castle Rock, CO, that's billed as "a place where men could be men - while being pampered like women."
Why are we telling you this? First, because Brett Shumway of Mile High Hockey has a two-part Q&A with Parker (read Part 1 and Part 2) that we simply didn't want to see end. It's an awesome, insightful and sprawling conversation about the Avs then and now, the Stanley Cup, life as a goon, injuries and hockey in general.
For example, on the NHL's department of player safety, Parker argues that self-policing the game is still the way to go:
"Come playoffs, whistles go away. Why is there two separate games? Why don't they just play that way the whole time instead of just letting them play like that in the playoffs, because the enforcers don't generally get to play in the playoffs. If Raffi Torres will go out and just [expletive] tool someone, and I can't go out and do it 'cause I'm up in the stands eating nachos - now I can't do anything."
But the real sizzle in Part 2 of Shumway's chat with Parker surrounds then-Vancouver Canucks forward Todd Bertuzzi's infamous 2004 attack that ended Avs forward Steve Moore's NHL career. The civil lawsuit filed against Bertuzzi and the Canucks' then-owners is expected to go to trial later this year.
Parker was playing for San Jose when Moore, with whom Parker played in Colorado, was attacked. While he doesn't exonerate Bertuzzi, he doesn't demonize him either.
From Mile High Hockey, here's Parker answering a question about Bertuzzi:
SCOTT PARKER: Yeah, yeah. He's a good man. He, he is. I mean, he did get dealt some bad cards, and the thing is, [Steve Moore] always thought he was better than everybody else. He went to Harvard, you know what, blow me. College grad. I never went to college, but I can kick your ass. I'll bring you right down to my IQ level if you want. I'll hit you about four times in the skull, that'll bring you right down. So, you know, Todd just, it was one of those games. Markus Naslund, the captain of the Canucks, gets taken out. It was a little sketchy what happened, but, hey. And then Moore, he fought, I think Cooke came after him and then he fought, which wasn't really a fight. Todd wasn't really thrilled with it, they were losing, I think it was 8 to 1 in their home barn.
You don't do that in Canada. You talk about a sport that they love? You talk about Europeans and soccer? That's hockey in Canada. So it's the same way, if you don't respond up there, they will eat you alive.
And Todd, he might have gone overboard, and what's crazy is, even talking to him after the fact and talking to Moe, Morris and other boys that were in that, that happened, I watched that tape about a hundred times, and just the way Todd hit him, and he actually grabbed him to soften his blow when he went down, and what happened was when Moe landed on him, he actually hit the back of his neck and it actually popped up. You know, just the way Todd was holding him.
But you know, it wasn't vicious, it was just, it was the heat of the moment. It was one of those things where you, you want to do something, but you don't know if it's gonna be big, if it's gonna be small, or how it's gonna pan out. But you wanna do something. And Todd, he might not have been right and it might have been a little overboard, but you know, he did something. I mean, at least he responded, at least he tried.
I know he's marked now. People hate him, and it's amazing what that can do to a man, too. It can make you feel this small, you know. And he's not a bad man. He's a great guy and a good family guy, and he just got marked. It's one of those things…
After all, Parker was an enforcer, and part of the gig is being instructed to make an opposing team or player "pay the price" for their transgressions. Which is essentially what Bertuzzi has indicated he went through in Vancouver.
Yeah, we know: Why should we care about a retired meathead's ramblings on Todd Bertuzzi? Read Part 1 and Part 2 of the interview. Say what you will, but the guy's lived the life. It's not hard to imagine that many of his contemporaries don't see Bertuzzi/Moore in much the same manner.