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.

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