by Amanda Gunther || AHL On The Beat Archive
“I’m not a savage by any means, but I can play one if I have to,” joked Steve Parsons, the American Hockey League’s record holder for the most penalty minutes in one game. The 6-foot-4, 235-pound Parsons grabbed an incredible 64 minutes in penalties back on March 17, 2002, against the Syracuse Crunch, a contest which has come to be known as the St. Patrick’s Day Massacre.
After nearly six years away from professional hockey, the former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton forward returned to the Wachovia Arena to lace up the skates for the very first Penguins Alumni Game on Apr. 4.
“To have something like this happen is just great; no other team has done an alumni game like this,” exclaimed Parsons. “Every guy in the [locker] room was super excited about it, we were all just in awe.”
Parsons is certainly not ashamed of his spot in history with the Penguins.
“I wasn’t going to get the most goals, so I might as well have done something,” he laughed. “I take my spot in history with a lot of pride. People that know me know me, that is part of my game and act.”
Little did he know that “tough guy” act would end up ending his professional career.
Parsons played parts of two seasons (2000-02) with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton before signing with the Boston Bruins organization for the 2002-03 campaign. It was while playing with the Bruins’ AHL club in Providence that Parsons damaged his wrist in a fight, an injury that required reconstructive surgery.
After almost two years of recovery, Parsons went to the New York Rangers’ camp in 2004-05 and failed a medical test due to the ailment.
“They couldn’t insure me, so I had to hang them up,” said Parsons.
Shortly thereafter, Parsons began a career in oil and gas sales. Transitioning into the “real world” after playing the sport he loved wasn’t an easy task.
“For so long you are used to a certain lifestyle…and the guys and the schedule and the culture that comes with it,” said Parsons. “It’s tough when you grew up on a team from when you were four years old playing little tyke hockey and you’re always on a team and then all of sudden you’re 31 or 32 and you’re not anymore.”
But Parsons eventually found his way back into the world of hockey once again. He recently moved back to his hometown of Vancouver, B.C., where he has taken over a lead director role with a hockey skills academy. At the academy, Parsons works with teenagers and children on their game with individual and team coaching.
Even though Parsons retired in 2003, his career ending injury has not kept him from playing recreational hockey. For the past five years Parsons has been suiting up to play a type of hockey that is a little more difficult than pro hockey.
“To be honest [professional] hockey is easier than recreational hockey because the guys here know where to go, they know how to pick up a pass they know how to give a pass,” said Parsons.
Being back in Wilkes-Barre was a great experience for Parsons. He was amazed about how much has changed in the area over the past seven years.
“When I was playing here there was Wegmans [supermarket] down the way and everything else was just dirt. And now they’ve got the hotels and the restaurants and the casino of course,” he said. “There’s no question as to why guys retire here.”
Playing at the arena again was a great experience for Parsons.
“It’s a thrill, it never gets old,” he said. “I wear my Penguins hat and shirt with pride.”