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Tag:Georges Laraque
Posted on: January 26, 2012 11:38 am
Edited on: January 26, 2012 5:08 pm
 

What would all-Quebec team look like for Habs?

By Brian Stubits

Go back a few weeks when Randy Cunneyworth's "hiring" in Montreal was all the rage. Literally, rage. It led to organized protests against the Canadiens organization, not just Cunneyworth (although that was the impetus).

Those who didn't support Cunneyworth's hiring because he doesn't speak French were upset not only with the Cunneyworth promotion, but what they called the entire Anglicization of the Montreal Canadiens, Quebec's only team since the Nordiques became the Avalanche.

The list of complaints went beyond the coach not speaking French, however. Here is what the Canadian Press reported about the protests.

Protesters also complained the music played at the Bell Centre is in English, that announcements are in both languages and that the team has few francophone players.

I laughed when I first saw that. Would the people of Quebec rather have a team of Francophones that stink than a team of Anglophones that wins (of course they have neither right now)?

So that got me to thinking: What would an all French-speaking, Quebec-born team look like? I wanted to take a look and see how good of a team I could put together, keeping salary cap restraints in mind. (Hey folks, it's the All-Star break, just having some fun here.) Consider this my own All-Star fantasy draft.

Let's just get right to it, shall we?

Head coach

Alain Vigneault is the guy. The Quebec City native has actually tried coaching the Canadiens before, making the playoffs only once from 1997-2001. He was fired midseason in the 2000-01 campaign. But he's found success since moving on to Vancouver, winning the Jack Adams once and coming in as a finalist in 2011 (he was also a finalist in 2000 with the Habs). A return trip to Montreal will hopefully go better this time.

Goaltenders

Marc-Andre Fleury, Jean-Sebastien Giguere get the nod here. Now this is a position where I have a lot of choices. Fleury I think is a pretty clear starter based partly on his age, but for the second spot there are a lot of veterans: Giguere, Martin Brodeur, Jose Theodore, Martin Biron, Mathieu Garon and Jonathan Bernier. They can stop pucks in Quebec, that's pretty clear.

In terms of salary, Fleury takes up $5 million, Giguere only $1.25. So $6.25 million in goal is a decent price to pay, but not bad.

Robidas has spent time in Montreal already. (Getty Images)

Defensemen

I'm going with (in no particular pairing order) Kris Letang, Marc-Andre Bergeron, Francois Beauchemin, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Stephane Robidas and Marc-Andre Gragnani. Letang leads the scoring punch while Bergeron, Beauchemin and to an extent Vlasic adding some more points. Defensively, Vlasic and Beauchemin highlight a pretty good two-way corps. But if anybody goes down, it gets thin after that.

As a whole, the defensemen don't cost that much. Beauchemin ($3.8 million), Letang ($3.5 million), Robidas ($3.3 million), Vlasic ($3.1 million), Bergeron ($1 million) and Gragnani (550,000) come in at a total of $15.25 million.

Center

Now this is a group of guys I like: Patrice Bergeron, Danny Briere, David Desharnais and Maxime Talbot. You'll notice one pretty big omission here and that's Vincent Lecavalier, but that $10 million per year is too big of a burden, I don't know how the Lightning do it. But I still have two guys who can score, arguably the best defensive center in the game, a young and promising player in Desharnais and a solid worker in Talbot.

Naturally this is costing me some cash here. Briere ($6.5 million) is costly, then add Bergeron ($5 million) before getting a little reprieve with Talbot ($1.75 million) and Desharnais ($850,000). In total, they take up $14.1 million.

Right wing

OK, I take it back about center. This is where my team is really loaded. Check out this lineup of Martin St. Louis, Jason Pominville, P.A. Parenteau and Alex Burrows. That's some serious scoring ability on the wing. I didn't have room for Maxim Lapierre or Pascal Dupuis at this position, but more on them later.

As you'd expect, this is the most expensive per-player corps on the team. St. Louis commands a cool $5.625 million, Pominville takes $5.3 million, Burrows costs $2 million and Parenteau a very reasonable $1.25 million. Total bill: $14.175 million.

Left wing

Here we have an Achilles' heel. The lineup we could toss out is Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Alex Tanguay, David Perron and Guillaume Latendresse, but that's an awfully risky group of players. Each of Bouchard, Perron and Latendresse have dealt with concussions while Tanguay has been suffering with a neck strain. So to add a little stability, I'm going to convert Dupuis to the left side and leave out Bouchard -- more expensive than Latendresse.

The good news is this group doesn't cost a whole lot. Tanguay ($3.5 million), Latendresse ($2.5 million), Perron ($2.15 million) and Dupuis ($1.5 million) run up a bill of $9.65 million.

Scratches

Since he didn't make the list at right wing, Lapierre is going to serve as our daily scratch. But really he's likely going to be playing a lot at left wing with the injury potential. What he also gives is a physical presence. He's at least not averse to dropping the gloves, having five fights this season for Vancouver. Maybe we could try and talk Georges Laraque to coming back and serving the enforcer role, but undoubtedly sitting in press row most nights.

Lapierre comes in at an even $1 million.

Overall

The total salary for this team checks in at $60.425 million, giving our GM (we'll just keep Pierre Gauthier) a little room to maneuver or sign maybe another defenseman that would likely sit in the press box most nights.

Moreover, the top prospect in the system would have to be Jonathan Huberdeau, the player who went third overall to Florida in the last NHL Draft. He's likely to be in the NHL next season and right now projects to be a center but he can also play on the wing, so he could help out with the weaker left side.

In the end, it's actually a much better team than I thought it could be. It might be a little lacking in the physical department, but the team has a lot of ingredients: It has some big-time scorers (seriously, a top two lines of Tanguay-Bergeron-St. Louis and Perron-Briere-Pominville isn't bad at all), it has some agitators (I'm looking at you, Burrows and Lapierre), is good defensively and I think it's solid in net.

And don't forget, everybody speaks French!

More from Eye on Hockey

Yes there were protesters in Montreal
Quebec group unhappy with Cunneyworth hire
Owner: Bilingual coach is important

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: January 15, 2012 12:51 pm
Edited on: January 15, 2012 7:48 pm
 

Watch Alex Ovechkin dance and rap in Russian

By Brian Stubits

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin is pretty good at his day job, to state the obvious. So here is where I'll suggest he sticks to it instead of getting into the music industry.

But if you want to play in the alternate universe and you wonder what it would be like if Ovie were a rapper and hip-hop dancer, well this is your lucky day. Unless you speak Russian you won't understand this song, but it doesn't matter, everybody can enjoy Ovechkin dancing -- and rapping to boot.

It's good to see that Ovechkin's dancing repertoire has grown so much since his Eastern Motors commercial a few years back. The singing/rapping ability is a bit better too.

Thanks to Fedor Fedin at the blog Russian Machine Never Breaks, here's a translation of Ovechkin's part of the song called Champion.

Alumni of Dynamo
8 on the back.
In the All-Star game all attention is on me.

On the NatTeam since 17
Scored 100 points in a season
Gold medal in Canada in ’08

Among the ten best players of the decade,
Stick in my hands, Rap in my headphones,
Saying hello from Washington,
Together with Sanya Belyi,
For every champion

[And then a bizarre sound that sounds like the English words "Look out!"]

Now my question is which player had a better dance and rap in a video recently: Ovechkin in Russian or former NHL tough guy Georges Laraque in this French Chris Brown rip off? (By the way, if you ever doubted how big the Canadiens are in Quebec, that should end your doubt.)

Now I'll wait for Ovechkin to celebrate a goal with his dance from this video, minus the blurred out finger part, of course.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: November 7, 2011 10:35 pm
Edited on: November 7, 2011 10:41 pm
 

Ex-WADA head buys Laraque; Roenick: 'No steroids'

By Brian Stubits

Former NHL enforcer Georges Laraque opened up a can of worms this weekend when his book The Story of the NHL's Unlikeliest Tough Guy came out. I mean, he damaged the good name of the Great One, saying Wayne Gretzky wasn't good, let alone great when it came to coaching.

Oh, and something about players taking steroids too.

Yes, Laraque dropped the "S word" and now the conversation is open. That's not say it shouldn't be. Quite frankly, it should have been a bigger talk for years in hockey, much the same as it has been in baseball. But for some reason, it has been a very quiet conversation.

It is a conversation that former World Anti-Doping Agency head Dick Pound started a little bit back in 2005. That's when he estimated about 1/3 of player in the NHL were doping. The numbers seems a bit high, even for many of the cynics. So it comes as no surprise that Pound isn't ... um ... surprised by Laraque's claim that players are doping, more than the enforcers.

"Anybody who pays attention to these things already knew that," Pound told the Canadian Press on Monday. "The only organization in denial was the NHL.

"When you see some of the stuff occurring on the rinks these days, you don't know whether you're dealing with people who are playing the game in a steroid rage or not, but some of these head shots are not accident."

Pound continued by discussing the NHL's drug-testing policies, something a colleague described to me as the "most lax PED policy in pro sports."

"They still don't test in the off-season," Pound said. "If you've got an IQ higher than room temperature, you know they can do this program for a number of weeks and have the stuff all flushed out of your system and still get the benefit of it.

"If you know you're not getting tested before the season begins, it's an invitation to do it in the offseason."

That's the biggest criticism of all, the dark period of testing. From the end of the season until it begins again, players aren't under any kind of microscope.

But not everybody agrees with Laraque and Pound on this matter. We point you to naive crowd over in blue corner, led by the always opinionated Jeremy Roenick. Not only does he not believe the better players are doping, he doesn't think ANYBODY is doping. This is what he told The Score in a recent interview.

"I think the steroids, I think he was referring to two different things, one, I think maybe in the late 80′s/early 90′s when the fighters were as prevalent, they were a dime a dozen, there might have been a little bit more of…something to happen. I can tell you right now that steroids is not an issue in the National Hockey League whatsoever. There is no steroids whatsoever, across the board in the National Hockey League."

That's quite a stand to take. You can probably tell by my tone that I don't agree. Maybe I have grown to be one of those cynics, but I just can't believe that nobody is using PEDs in hockey. But there has only been one player caught under the current testing framework, Sean Hill with the Islanders back in 2006. The cynic says that shows how bad the testing policy is. The clean-believers say that shows the game is clean.

If any of the players currently in the game have seen them, they at least aren't saying as much.

"I was in the dressing room pre-lockout for training camp. Never heard [about it] nor saw it," Maple Leafs veteran defenseman Dion Phaneuf said. "I've never, ever seen it."

Senators enforcer Zenon Konopka was even more vocal about it, even taking a shot at Laraque.

"I don't know what his reasons are to define it as a problem, but it's like most things in life that people don't get enough information and shoot their mouth off about something before they get all their facts," Konopka said.

"I think Georges probably should have done a little more fact-finding himself before making comments that maybe he'll regret."

Are we headed down a path that will take hockey in front of Congress? Probably not. But you better believe that if nothing else, Laraque just reopened the conversation.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.


Posted on: November 5, 2011 10:12 pm
Edited on: November 5, 2011 10:20 pm
 

Steroids tell-alls like Laraque's no longer shock

By Brian Stubits

Former NHL tough guy Georges Laraque has been busy since retiring after the 2009-10 season. He has visited Haiti with P.K. Subban. He has gotten involved with the Green Party in Canada and he became a vegan. He even did some rapping.

Add a somewhat salacious book to the long list.

In Laraque's book The Story of the NHL's Unlikeliest Tough Guy, he pulled a Jose Canseco, claiming that steroid use was rampant in hockey, and not just among the enforcers. The star players doped too.

"I have to say here that tough guys weren't the only players using steroids in the NHL," Laraque wrote. "It was true that quite a lot of them did use this drug, but other, more talented players did too.

"Most of us knew who they were, but not a single player, not even me, would ever think of raising his hand to break the silence and accuse a fellow player."

That's where his book differs from Canseco, who throw a lot of names under the bus in his tell-all baseball book Juiced. Laraque doesn't name any names.

But Canseco's book has done a funny thing to the sporting audience; it made people apathetic to performance-enhancing drugs in sports. At this point, it's expected. Hockey hasn't been plagued with the scandal like baseball or even football has, but I still don't think this caused many people to bat an eyelash. If they were being used in a sport like baseball, I don't think many were naive enough to think they weren't around in a physical game such as hockey.

Especially without naming names, it's even less eye-catching. At first, Canseco was hammered for his hit-and-run approach. But as one name after another was further implicated, Canseco was further vindicated. He burned bridges, something Laraque clearly isn't willing to do, but it made his claims that much stronger -- and loud.

So in a way, hockey should thank Canseco. Because of him taking baseball through the pain of the steroid scandal, the topic is a bit played out. Fans have come to expect it, while not necessarily liking it, most at least accept it. This is certainly enough to kickstart the conversation in hockey again. The league's performance-enhancing drug testing will be examined. But I'm not sure there will be the massive uproar that America's Pasttime heard.

Laraque even seems to admit that he's not giving away a big secret by saying the tough guys in the game were using. It's the inclusion of some star players that is the revelation. But without names, this carries little weight and the stain will be much easier to wipe away than the one that has plagued baseball.

Now if you were looking for dirt, there was the fact that Laraque called Wayne Gretzky "The worst coach I've ever played for." Of course, I don't think that one will surprise many either.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report. To read the entire AP story, click here.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: September 1, 2011 11:12 am
Edited on: September 1, 2011 11:18 am
 

Laraque wants action from NHL, NHLPA



By: Adam Gretz


Georges Laraque spent 12 seasons in the NHL with one specific role: fight. He appeared on TSN Radio on Wednesday afternoon and spoke about how much he hated that role and hated promoting violence, but did it because it was his job. Following the death of Wade Belak later that day, he spoke to the Toronto Sun and called for the NHL and NHLPA to establish some sort of counseling for fighters.

Said Laraque: "Listen, they have to step up. Now more than ever, people have to realize that the job that we did is a really stressful job. Mentally, it’s one of the hardest things. There’s so many guys that have demons and problems with that. We have to do something.

“This, as sad as an incident that it is, is tainting the image of the NHL. If we don’t do something about it, it’s going to be bad. It’s not going to be safe anymore. It’s unbelievable.”

The easy connection here is to automatically associate the three recent NHL deaths (Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien and Belak) with fighting because all three shared the same role on the ice. We still don't know what impact their role had on their untimely deaths (or if their role on the ice was a symptom of an underlying issue that already existed long before they were in the NHL). This isn't just about fighters or fighting. Both sides (the pro-fighting side and the anti-fighting side) have their own agenda on the subject and it does nothing but clutter everything up with noise at this point.

The issue is why players -- all players, not just fighters -- can't get (or aren't getting) the help they desperately need. Anything that involves any sort of anxiety, depression or therapy still has plenty of stigma attached to it in society in general (and it shouldn't). But it has to be even worse in sports, an industry where everything happens (good and bad) in the public eye.

I've never had depression, so I can't speak as to what it's like, and I certainly don't work under the same spotlight professional athletes do, but I have had my own anxiety issues (OCD tendancies) since late high school/early college. Once I realized it was happening (like, for example, having to turn the car around, drive back home and re-check the same locks that I had systematically checked before, or making sure the stove was still turned off or the toaster was still unplugged) it took me a while to finally admit it and talk about it. I'm not going to lie and say that it was easy to start telling people about it -- because it wasn't -- but finally doing so turned out to be a huge step in facing it and working to overcome it.

It's nothing to hide from or be embarrassed about. Anxiety and depression issues are more common than most people realize, and often times go unnoticed or unreported. Why wouldn't that happen in sports, too? You're dealing with an environment where any potential flaw has the possibility of being used against you by an opponent, a drunk heckler behind the penalty box or, hell, even a potential employer. How difficult would it be for a person in an industry like professional sports where the pressure is immense and the spotlight is constantly on you? And what about a player that's sitting in a pre-draft meeting getting grilled by an executive? Is there a fear that if something like that is revealed it will hurt his chances of being selected or given a contract?

Following the death of Rypien, Vancouver general manager Mike Gillis spoke about how he and the Canucks organization were going to continue Rypien's fight against depression. It's a worthy fight that demands more attention than it's currently getting, in society, in sports ... everywhere. Here's hoping he and the Canucks (and the NHL and NHLPA) are not only successful at improving the way these situations are handled, but also changing the culture so that players with a problem are more comfortable and willing to seek out the help they need.

A friend of mine that works in the psychology field (you can check out his website, Psychotherapy Brown Bag, by clicking right here) asked me to include the national suicide prevention lifeline if you or anyone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide. Please call 1-800-273-TALK for free, anonymous help that is available 24/7.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @agretz on Twitter.



 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com