June 10 2012 02:15PM
Retired tough guy Georges Laraque is publicly pitching a return to the NHL, which is something I told you was coming back on April 1, and you can bet he will be running that idea – probably already has -- past the Edmonton Oilers.
From Jim Matheson's Hockey World in The Edmonton Journal today: "I told my agent (Steve Kotlowitz) I’d sign anywhere. I’ll take a physical. I’ll sign a one-year minimum (salary). I’d come in like a rookie," said Laraque, who last played during the 2009-10 season, getting into 61 games over two years with the Habs until they bought him out of the final year of his three-year contract. He’s played 645 NHL games, in all with the Edmonton Oilers, Phoenix Coyotes, Pittsburgh and Montreal.
"At my age I wouldn’t expect to play every game and if I went from nine minutes a game to four or five, that’s fine. I could be a veteran role player. I can’t see how a team could turn me down with those terms if they want toughness. I want to end on my own terms and I have something to prove. I’m going to be so motivated to play again." Matheson's story is here.
Laraque, 35, was bought out of his last contract by Montreal and a lot of people have assumed he'd just fade away, but his decline as a player was as much about his health as anything. Laraque struggled with herniated discs in his back, and as somebody who has dealt with that, I can tell you there are few things as debilitating – just in day-to-day life, let alone trying to play hockey at the NHL level.
I'll let other people so inclined debate the merits of a return by Laraque and if he'd fit in with the Oilers here and now, but he's healthy again, as referenced in today's piece written by Matheson, and that makes a world of difference. Laraque speaks about hs desire to return on his Facebook page here.
I'd like to see Laraque at least get the chance to go out on his own terms and put a miserable end to his NHL career in Montreal behind him, but that's just me. More important in the bigger picture, Laraque is friends with Edmonton owner Daryl Katz and if he really wants another look-see from the Oilers under terms that make sense, he'll get it.
Take that to the bank.
THIS AND THAT
I'm enjoying the "Should the Oilers . . ." series of articles by Jonathan Willis about the possibilities of pursuing players via trade or free agency. You can find them here and here. They promote discussion, debate and traffic, which is the point of what we do here at Oilersnation. As an added bonus, they set-up relevant follow-ups for the person writing them.
If you conclude the Oilers should pursue a player and they do, you look pretty smart. If they don't pursue that player, you've got a built-in follow up pissing and moaning that they didn't (especially if that player has a great season somewhere else). Same thing if you say they shouldn't and they do (especially if the player turns into Cam Barker). Either way, you can wag your finger and tsk tsk. The material writes itself.
AND . . .
If I was writing the next item for Canadian Press or another MSM outlet, I wouldn't pass it along because I haven't been able to get any verification from anybody in the know, but I'm not, so I will, even if it's fodder for those prone to whining "Brownlee, you used to be a journalist, not a blogger writing in his pajamas and taking swigs from a big jug of Sprite . . ."
Somebody I know insists that Brent Sutter already has been told he's got the job as Edmonton's next coach, which flies in the face of most the reports I've seen and what GM Steve Tambellini has said on the record.
Possible? Sure. Verifiable? Not with Tambellini and president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe tighter than clams these days. It also conflicts with the insistence by 630 CHED radio man Bob Stauffer associate coach Ralph Krueger is a serious contender for the job. This version of the coaching sweepstakes doesn't jibe with what I've heard.
If Sutter ends up with (or already has) the job, I wonder if he might want to re-visit supposed interest the Oilers have had in Jarome Iginla in the past? That sounds way out there, doesn't it? Doesn't it? Just asking.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.