Georges Laraque

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Georges Laraque
Georges Laraque 2016.jpg
Laraque in 2016
Born (1976-12-07) December 7, 1976 (age 39)
Montreal, QC, CAN
Height 6 ft 3 in (191 cm)
Weight 260 lb (120 kg; 18 st 8 lb)
Position Right Wing
Shoots Right
2. divisjon team
Former teams
Lokomotiv Fana
Edmonton Oilers
Phoenix Coyotes
Pittsburgh Penguins
Montreal Canadiens
NHL Draft 31st overall, 1995
Edmonton Oilers
Playing career 1996-–2010
2015-–present
Georges Laraque
Deputy Leader of the Green Party of Canada
In office
July 31, 2010 – October 17, 2013
Serving with Elizabeth May

Georges Laraque is a 13-year NHL veteran who has played for the Edmonton Oilers, Phoenix Coyotes, Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens. He was known as “The Rock”, acting primarily as an enforcer on these teams. His best-selling biography, The Story of The NHL's Unlikeliest Tough Guy, goes well beyond the stereotype of the tough guy. It is the story of a true humanitarian, an engaged citizen not only in his immediate community, but on the global stage as well. The son of Haitian immigrants, Laraque campaigned for World Vision to help with Haitian relief and the rebuilding of the Grace Children’s Hospital in Port-au-Prince. Today, Georges is involved in many charities, including the Mira Foundation which provides dogs for disabled individuals and the Team In Training for blood cancer research.

A committed believer in animal rights and a spokesperson for PETA, he became a vegan in 2009 and has, ever since, contributed to the vegetarian movement in Montreal by becoming co-owner of two raw vegan restaurants called Crudessence and Rise Kombucha, a raw, organic, vegan, fairtrade fermented tea beverage company. A conscientious environmentalist, Laraque stepped up in July 2010 to be the deputy leader of the Green Party.

All in all, Georges Laraque is a man of strong convictions. As an avid follower of the Dalai Lama, he believes that: “Just as we should cultivate gentle and peaceful relations with our fellow human beings, we should also extend that same kind of attitude towards the natural environment.”

Since his retirement, Georges has been very active as a speaker. He has been invited to hundreds of events and has spoken on various topics such as sports, motivation, racism, bullying, veganism, business, charities and politics.

Hockey career[edit]

Laraque entered the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), where he played for a variety of teams. In 173 games at the junior level, Laraque stockpiled 107 points and 661 penalty minutes. Laraque was a member of the 1996 Granby Prédateurs team which won the Memorial Cup.

After finishing junior, Laraque spent parts of two seasons with the American Hockey League's (AHL) Hamilton Bulldogs. On October 25, 1996, Laraque was involved in his first professional fight taking on Chris LiPuma of the Kentucky Thoroughblades.

On September 15, 1997 in a pre-season game, Laraque fought established heavyweight fighter Donald Brashear of the Vancouver Canucks in an attempt to impress the coaching staff. On November 15, 1997, Laraque was called up to the NHL and took part in his first career fight against Todd Simpson of the Calgary Flames. Laraque won the fight and would be victorious in four others before being reassigned to the AHL.

A year later, with much hard work to improve his game, Laraque showed enough at the AHL-level for Edmonton to bring him to the NHL on a regular basis. Although he was something of a power forward in junior hockey, Laraque is considered primarily as an enforcer at the NHL level. His 6'3" frame and his habit of fighting made him one of the most feared forwards in the league. He was unanimously awarded the 'Best Fighter' award from The Hockey News in 2003. He was named the number one enforcer by Sports Illustrated in 2008. Despite his reputation as a fighting-only player, Laraque has had offensive bursts during his career and on February 21, 2000, Laraque scored a hat trick against the Los Angeles Kings and was also named the game's first star.

Laraque with the Penguins, April 2008.

During the 2004-2005 NHL lockout, he played in Sweden, signing on with AIK. The following season with the Oilers, on November 23, 2005 in a game against the Minnesota Wild. Laraque defeated the 6'7" 260 pound Derek Boogaard. In the 2006 off-season, Laraque was up for free agency and wanted to stay in Edmonton and play. He even said he was willing to take a salary cut if the Oilers accepted on giving him a long-term, no-trade clause deal. The Oilers did not agree with Laraque's demand for a no-trade clause thus the contract was never signed. On July 5, 2006, Laraque signed with the Phoenix Coyotes. He scored his first goal as a Coyote against Edmonton on October 26, 2006. Laraque was then traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins for the 2007-08 season for agitating prospect Daniel Carcillo. Laraque's former junior coach and Penguins coach at the time Michel Therrien was heavily involved in this decision and believed that he was needed to protect the young stars in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Laraque pictured during his time as a member of the Montreal Canadiens

On July 3, 2008, Laraque signed a contract as a free agent with the Montreal Canadiens. He elected to wear number 17 with the Canadiens rather than his usual 27, which was Alex Kovalev's number at the time. One of the main reasons why Montreal sought Laraque was to add toughness; in the previous year's playoffs, they had been outplayed physically by the Philadelphia Flyers, and in the first round, they had difficulty countering Boston Bruin Milan Lucic.[1] On November 21, 2009 Laraque was suspended 5 games after hitting Detroit Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall with a knee to knee hit. On December 12, 2009, Laraque would enter his final fight taking on Eric Boulton of the Atlanta Thrashers. On January 21, 2010 the Montreal Canadiens released Laraque and announced they were planning to buy out the remainder of his contract.[2] His contract was officially bought out on June 15, 2010.[3] Because Laraque had been suffering from two herniated discs in his back during the last season and a half that he had been playing, he subsequently announced his retirement from professional hockey.[4] Laraque took advantage of being released by the Canadiens to offer his help to Haiti, his country of ancestry, and began raising money to rebuild the Grace Children's Hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in association with World Vision and the NHLPA.[5]

While playing with the Oilers, Laraque was famous for his "Laraque Leap", in which he would smash his body against the glass at Northlands Coliseum after the Oilers scored a goal.[6]

Laraque came out of retirement in January 16, 2015, joining Norway's Lokomotiv Fana.[7]

Additionally, he is assistant coach of the Haiti street & ball hockey national team during the 2015 Streethockey World Championship in Zug, Switzerland.[8]

Political career[edit]

On February 13, 2010, Laraque joined the Green Party of Canada.[9][10] On July 31, 2010, Laraque was officially named one of the party's Deputy Leaders.[11] On July 9, 2013 he announced he would run for the federal Green Party in the by-election in Bourassa.[12] On October 17, 2013 Laraque resigned as deputy leader of the Green Party of Canada and as candidate in Bourassa riding.[13]

Personal life[edit]

Laraque's parents were both born in Haiti and immigrated to Canada; he was born in Montreal, Quebec.[14] During his NHL career, he was nicknamed "Big Georges," sometimes shortened to "BGL."

In the off-season, Laraque resides in Edmonton, which he considers his home away from home. On Fridays during the off-season, Laraque can often be heard hosting The Team 1260, an afternoon radio sports program in Edmonton. Laraque commits considerable time to local charity work to help the people of Edmonton, Pittsburgh and, following the 2010 earthquake, Haiti.

Business and sports events[edit]

Laraque became a vegan in 2009 to protest animal abuse by the meat industry. He is an investor in two raw vegan restaurants called Crudessence.[15][16]

On May 21, 2010, Laraque squared off with world welterweight mixed martial arts (MMA) champion Georges St-Pierre for three rounds of grappling for takedowns on TSN TV show Off The Record. Laraque did not score any takedowns. The same year, Laraque appeared in Season 2 of CBC's Battle of the Blades with partner Anabelle Langlois.

In 2011, Laraque took part in the CBC's Canada Reads literary competition. He was the celebrity defender for author Angie Abdou's The Bone Cage.[17]

On November 8, 2011, Laraque published an autobiography entitled Georges Laraque: The Story of the NHL's Unlikeliest Tough Guy.

On July 9, 2012, Perry Boskus, president of a Florida-based company that produced synthetic ice sheets which Laraque sold in Canada, issued a press release accusing the player of fraud. One day later, Boskus retracted these allegations.[18]

On November 17, 2014, Laraque challenged Quebec Women's cycling champion Lex Albrecht to a bike race up Mount Royal. Laraque required medical attention following the race, which he lost to Albrecht.[19]

Transactions[edit]

  • Drafted by the Oilers on July 8, 1995 (second round, #31 pick overall).
  • Signed with Phoenix as a free agent on July 5, 2006.
  • Traded to Pittsburgh on February 27, 2007 for Daniel Carcillo and 2008 third-round pick (#90 overall, used on Tomáš Kundrátek).
  • Signed with Montreal as a free agent on July 3, 2008.
  • Retired on August 2, 2010

Achievements[edit]

Awards[edit]

Laraque receives Community Service Award during a pregame ceremony, April 2008.

Career statistics[edit]

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1993–94 Saint-Jean Lynx QMJHL 70 11 11 22 142 4 0 0 0 7
1994–95 Saint-Jean Lynx QMJHL 62 19 22 41 259 7 1 1 2 42
1995–96 Laval Titan Collège Français QMJHL 11 8 13 21 76
1995–96 Saint-Hyacinthe Lasers QMJHL 8 3 4 7 59
1995–96 Granby Prédateurs QMJHL 22 9 7 16 125 18 7 6 13 104
1996–97 Hamilton Bulldogs AHL 73 14 20 34 179 15 1 3 4 12
1997–98 Hamilton Bulldogs AHL 46 10 20 30 154 3 0 0 0 11
1997–98 Edmonton Oilers NHL 11 0 0 0 59
1998–99 Edmonton Oilers NHL 39 3 2 5 57 4 0 0 0 2
1998–99 Hamilton Bulldogs AHL 25 6 8 14 93
1999–00 Edmonton Oilers NHL 76 8 8 16 123 5 0 1 1 6
2000–01 Edmonton Oilers NHL 82 13 16 29 148 6 1 1 2 8
2001–02 Edmonton Oilers NHL 80 5 14 19 157
2002–03 Edmonton Oilers NHL 64 6 7 13 110 6 1 3 4 4
2003–04 Edmonton Oilers NHL 66 6 11 17 99
2005–06 Edmonton Oilers NHL 72 2 10 12 73 15 1 1 2 44
2006–07 Phoenix Coyotes NHL 56 5 17 22 52
2006–07 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 17 0 2 2 18 2 0 0 0 0
2007–08 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 71 4 9 13 141 15 1 2 3 4
2008–09 Montreal Canadiens NHL 33 0 2 2 61 4 0 0 0 4
2009–10 Montreal Canadiens NHL 28 1 2 3 28
NHL totals 695 53 100 153 1126 57 4 8 12 72

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hickey, Pat (2008-10-27). "Laraque brings missing fear factor". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved 2009-04-18. 
  2. ^ "NHL Canadiens to part ways with winger Laraque". TSN.ca. 2010-01-21. Retrieved 2010-01-21. 
  3. ^ "Canadiens buy out Georges Laraque". National Hockey League. 2010-06-15. Retrieved 2010-06-15. 
  4. ^ Georges Laraque (10 August 2010). "Georges Blog August 10, 2010". Georges Blog. Retrieved 12 August 2010. 
  5. ^ Georges Laraque (25 January 2010). "Georges Blog January 25, 2010". Georges Blog. Retrieved 16 January 2011. 
  6. ^ Weekes, Don Hardcore Hockey Trivia, Greystone Books, Vancouver, 2004
  7. ^ Ellingsen, Roy (January 16, 2015). "NHL-legende til norsk 2. divisjon". Bergens Tidende. Retrieved March 8, 2015. 
  8. ^ http://zug2015.com/en/teams/b-pool/group-4/hai-haiti/
  9. ^ "NHL star player Georges Laraque joins the Green Party of Canada | Green Party of Canada". Greenparty.ca. 2010-02-13. Retrieved 2012-11-17. 
  10. ^ Murphy, Jessica (2010-02-13). "Ex-Hab Georges Laraque joins forces with Green Party". Globe and Mail. Montreal, Quebec: CTVglobemedia. Retrieved 2010-02-14. 
  11. ^ "Green Party names ex-NHLer Laraque deputy leader". CBC News. July 31, 2010. Archived from the original on August 3, 2010. 
  12. ^ "Ex-NHL player Georges Laraque taking a shot at politics". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 8 July 2013. Retrieved 10 July 2013. 
  13. ^ "Ex-NHL enforcer Georges Laraque hangs up political skates to fight fraud charges". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. October 17, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Georges Laraque concerned about family in Haiti". Kelowna.com. 2010-01-14. Retrieved 2010-01-14. 
  15. ^ "Georges Laraque profile". GeorgesLaraque.com. 2009-10-13. Retrieved 2009-10-13. 
  16. ^ Nicoud, Anabelle (2010-08-15). "Fierté gaie: un défilé de toutes les couleurs". La Presse. Montreal, Quebec: Gesca. Retrieved 2010-08-21. 
  17. ^ "Canada Reads with Jian Ghomeshi | CBC Radio". Cbc.ca. 2010-11-18. Retrieved 2012-11-17. 
  18. ^ "CANOE - SLAM! Sports - Hockey - News: Laraque incensed by accusations". Slam.canoe.ca. Retrieved 2012-11-17. 
  19. ^ "George Laraque loses bike race". 

External links[edit]