Friday, September 5, 2008

Mother Made Laraque's Choice

Georges Laraque - Haitian NHL Player

EDMONTON - Daryl Katz so wanted Georges Laraque here as the Edmonton Oilers' nightly beat cop, the new owner offered the big guy a four-year contract -- one more year than the Montreal Canadiens were pitching the right winger.

Laraque still took the Habs' $4.5-million offer -- mainly because his mother in Montreal wanted to see him play games in the flesh, not on TV.

Laraque parted ways with the Oilers in 2006, signing in Phoenix. He was dealt to Pittsburgh in 2007. In Laraque's latter days here, Oilers coach Craig MacTavish didn't feel he needed a slugger in his lineup every night. When he did suit up, Laraque's minutes dropped.

But with the massive Derek Boogaard in Minnesota and Darcy Hordichuk siging in Vancouver, there is a need for a heavyweight in Edmonton to take the heat off willing agitator Zack Stortini.

Lararque said he wrestled with the Oilers' and Habs' offers, finally choosing Montreal.

"I wanted to make sure I talked to everybody," Laraque said earlier this week. "I see Daryl Katz almost every morning at the gym (Body by Bennett)... we're good friends, and I talked to Kevin (Lowe) and Mac (MacTavish). The philosophy before was they didn't feel they needed a tough guy in the new NHL. That's why my role here was diminished towards the end. I wasn't playing as much and I didn't feel I was utilized.

"But we talked and they said things were different now. Things change." The Oilers were offering four years at $1.5 million per season, but he left the extra year on the table to go to Montreal.

"It was hard, really hard. I talked to Daryl at the gym, I talked to my agent ... I said. 'what do I do?' "I was born in Montreal. I have friends there but in Edmonton I have my family (dad), friends, my businesses, the gym. At the end of the day, my mom said 'You played here for nine years, give the family back home a chance to see you live.' "She said, 'If you sign there for three years, you'll still only be 34 and maybe you can still finish in Edmonton.' " So, Laraque will look after Alexi Kovalev, captain Saku Koivu and the other Habs in Montreal.

The Penguins brought in Eric Godard from Calgary to take Laraque's role.

"Pittsburgh wanted to re-sign me, but the GM (Ray Shero) asked if I'd take less, like half the money I was making last year, because they wanted to sign (Marian) Hossa," said Laraque. "But he didn't come back. Now, they have Godard at $750,000 (a year) for three years. Calgary only offered Godard one year. Then they needed a tough guy and went out and got Andre Roy." Laraque says the Western Conference has more of the true heavies.

"The West is tougher. Boogaard, (Brian) McGrattan is in Phoenix now. Jody Shelley, (Raitis) Ivanans (Los Angeles), Hordichuk, D.J. King (St. Louis), Roy, Scott Parker (Colorado)." The East has some sluggers, too. Riley Cote in Philadelphia will go with anybody. Colton Orr in New York can be a handful, too.

"The East has some older guys like Brash (Donald Brashear) and (Wade) Belak. They only will fight because they feel they have to. The West has younger guys, who like doing it," Laraque said.

Source: FaceOff.Com - The Edmonton Journal

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