Friday, January 22, 2010

BY GEORGES, I THINK HE'S LOST IT

You had to figure something was amiss with Georges Laraque when he stopped bench-pressing Volkswagens and ingesting livestock in favor of yoga and veganism, the latter two of which are not time-honored pursuits for the traditional hockey enforcer. Try to imagine John Ferguson tucking into a broadbean salad or Tie Domi in the lotus position with his feet behind his ears, and you get the idea.

When the Canadiens signed Laraque in the summer of 2008, it was a good fit. They were (and still are) an undersized team that needed (and still needs) a physical deterrent. At 1.5 million dollars a year over three years, Laraque was paid handsomely to fill that role, but his insistence on adhering to the "enforcer's code" by only fighting in his own weight class undermined the thinking that went into signing him. As general manager Bob Gainey rightly noted in announcing that Laraque's contract was being bought out, the TEAM code trumps whatever understanding might exist within the brotherhood of ham-fisted heavyweights. When Sean Avery or Steve Ott needed to be punched in the mouth, it's Laraque who should have been doing the punching, not Josh Gorges or Tomas Plekanec.

And despite the seeming consensus that he's the NHL's most feared pugilist, it's not as if Laraque acquitted himself with any great distinction in the relative handful of fights he got into as a member of the Canadiens. The encounter I remember best in his year-and-a-half in Montreal is a dance with the Islanders' Mitch Fritz - a 6 foot, 8 inch behemoth who tossed the 245 pound Laraque around like a rag doll.

Laraque probably regrets taking the low road by calling Gainey classless for unloading BGL at a time when he's preoccupied with the disaster in Haiti, where Laraque has roots and relatives who are still unaccounted for after last week's devastating earthquake. Say what you will about Gainey as a general manager, but as a human being, his integrity is beyond reproach, and having suffered through the untimely losses of both his wife and daughter, Gainey more than most is sensitive to personal tragedy. If anything, Gainey has given Laraque the opportunity to make a difference in Haiti by granting him the availability and resources to put his time and his money where his mouth is.

9 comments:

  1. Couldn't have said it better myself, or written it better, in this case. I just wish I could have heard you say it. We miss that voice, Ted. Get back on the air ASAP, please. As the other Georges would say "Get a hair cut and get a new job!" Good Luck, Sir. Happy belated birthday!

    ReplyDelete
  2. hey Ted..

    your right, but what about the months
    before where laraque did nothing,,im saying gainey takes to long to react as usual..
    and the fans all new laraque was usless having.. while were all watching the games..

    think the habs need to do a clean up and
    one thing stop putting so much faith in carey
    price..hes good but has had the same seasons
    good for a while then..down the tubes..
    halak is an outstanding back up..but the
    need a number 1 goalie..and the other thing
    is pacthorety and dagostini arent producing..

    the habs really have to do a locker clean up
    on the dead wood, or gaineys the next on the
    chopping block..

    hey what ever happend to all the draft picks
    they were supposed to have for trades..
    they trade a player for a draft choice..
    and we never hear any more..what they need
    is a player for right now!..not next year or
    the year after..

    the hab are just the same year after year..
    mediocre..i still think alain vingnault
    was the better coach..

    come on mr gainey wake up and do something
    stop snoozing or no playoffs..this year..

    and prepare some more excuses..

    think most fans would have similar comments..

    Brian.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Right on Ted. Very well said. I too bet that Laraque is eating his words right now.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Laraque was the best player the Habs had. Now they're gonna get Price to go and rough up the opposition? The most overrated goalie the Habs ever had so maybe he'll do better as an enforcer.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Note to Brian,
    Could you please repost your comment in English. Proper grammer and punctuation might make it make sense.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Laraque was signed because the fans and french press called for it. The same reason Latendresse made the team three years ago. No matter what he says, Bob Gainey is pressured to make decisions by the press. He will resign at the end of the year and be happy to get away from this team. The scrutiny of the french press will ensure the Canadiens won't win the cup again in my lifetime...and I'm only 44

    ReplyDelete
  7. Rigt you are scott...
    im thiking the same thing,
    gaineys on the way out after this
    season, but one never knows..
    like the 2 wins over the week end..
    very impressive 6-0 over the rangers..
    halak was great.. but Im thinking Price
    will fade away after next season,

    oh to anonymous..sorry for the writing..
    errors..guess i should proof read before posting..but that was a fast note so i didnt
    notice till after..

    ReplyDelete
  8. As a person who does not follow hockey very closely. I find it amusing that at the same time as the Quebec Junior league is about to decide on the punishment for a player who elbowed another. Ted is blogging that Georges' decision to "only fighting in his own weight class" as a reason for his firing. I do not know all the fine points but it would seem that either hockey is a game that includes violence or it is not. If it is then parents be aware before you enrole you children (ie don't complain when junior gets hurt). If it is not, then put to the curb those who transgress. If violence is an issue then it needs to be controlled first at the pro level. These are the guys & the games that influnce the younger amateur players. If Georges did not want to fight with smaller guys was he not doing the right thing?
    Kyle from Dorion

    ReplyDelete
  9. Right Kyle,

    the hit in the juniors was terrible,
    the guy just wanted to hurt the other player,
    maybe not to send to the hospital..but an
    elbow like that??,,its the same as a stick
    to the head, the player has lost his cool and just has visions of taking the other player out of the game not a carrear,,but its too late
    after the fact,,

    i agree laraque was doing the right thing
    by showing the example..
    in boxing they have weight catagories,,
    and other sports..it would be stupid to show
    a guy like lesnar fight a f;y weight..
    so same for laraque, is he going to drop the
    gloves with a 20 year old 5ft 6,180 lbs..

    guess we all know the answer..

    if he did then there would be a possee after
    laraque and the war would never end, and
    someone has to make a descision.. where to
    back off laraque was right, he bowed down..
    fans want to see hockey..not a bully

    Brian.

    ReplyDelete