APRIL FOOLS?

So, Georges Laraque is interested in coming out of retirement and wants to end his NHL career riding shotgun for Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with the Edmonton Oilers.

At least that’s the word from Dean Millard of Global Sports, who reported last night that the 300-pound 255-pound Laraque, out of the NHL since 2009-10 when the Montreal Canadiens bought out his contract, is contemplating a return to the Oilers, who drafted him 31st overall in 1995.

"I was quite surprised when I received a phone call last night telling me that Georges Laraque was looking for a training camp invite and wants to make a comeback bid," Millard said. "He left the game two years ago, but wants to retire an Oiler and hopes to be able to protect its future stars."

I said, pardon?

OPEN DOOR?

Having caught the item on Global’s late newscast Saturday, within about 10 minutes of the clock ticking over to April 1, I thought Millard was having one over on us. Apparently not, unless Laraque, in town for the Scotia Bank 2012 Pro-Am in support of Alzheimer’s research, is in on it.

Laraque, 35, who compiled 1,126 penalty minutes and was considered the reigning NHL heavyweight champion for most of his 695 games with the Oilers, Phoenix Coyotes, Pittsburgh Penguins and Canadiens, confirmed that he’s interested in coming back.

"I’m starting training again this summer. We’ll see how everything goes," said Laraque, who hasn’t been any closer to a scrap since retirement than signing on as deputy leader of the Green Party of Canada.

"I’m not closing the door. That’s for sure. I never officially retired. I wanted to get over my injuries and everything, so, now that I’m back in training, we’ll see what’s going to happen. I haven’t felt this happy for a long time, so that’s why the fire is coming back slowly. I’ll see in the next couple of weeks what’s going to happen."

While a comeback for Laraque, who has spent much of the last year touring in support of his book, The NHL’s Unlikeliest Tough Guy, will (and probably should) draw guffaws from some, it should be noted he is friends with Oilers owner Daryl Katz

Despite some bad feelings between Laraque and the team when he signed with Phoenix as a free agent after Edmonton GM Kevin Lowe opted not to offer him a no-trade clause, the Oilers were ready to offer him a four-year contract with Katz as owner three years later. Laraque instead signed a three-year deal with the Canadiens.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • neojanus

    This is not a wise manoeuvre… and is likely a joke?

    Maybe Ulanov would like an invite instead.

    Only way to protect Hall is to stop him from getting on the ice; he’s due for the Rexall lettering to fall on his head as he exits the building.

    We need someone to protect the players who can actually contribute. With all due respect, I don’t know if Georges is the guy.

    Saying that, the Oilers would have won the cup had they started Laraque instead of Harvey in game 7. I can’t think of someone who would bring more energy in that game… something the Oilers surprisingly lacked for a game 7 final.

  • I certainly hope this is a joke.

    George would have difficulty riding shotgun for Dustin Penner never mind taylor freaking hall.

    George was cut by the canadiens because Milan Lucic made him irrelevant, the staged goon has been written out of the play, lets leave it at that.

    Robin. Any comment on Terry Jones article ? If theres a disconnect between the kids who are taking over and the vets whose brutal play has allowed/ forced that to happen, Im curious where Ryan Smyth fits into the dynamic.

    • Disconnect is a catchy buzzword, but it has little to do with what we’re seeing here.

      This is a team in transition with younger players taking over or already clearly leading the way. That’s going to require an adjustment by the veterans in terms of approach just like it will require adjustments in ice time and roles moving forward. This should be obvious.

      That adjustment goes for Smyth, if he wants a new contract (and a reduced role as part of the deal), Horcoff and the others. The kids are the show now. The veterans, save for Hemsky and maybe Whitney and Schultz, are support and transitional players.

  • O.C.

    If the rules of the game hadn’t changed… maybe… but guys like George are being phased out.

    One of the things ST got right in letting Big Mac go.

    Sign for a contract for 20 games a year maybe? Those pinheads who like running guys might get the idea.

    Or maybe for one game to let him retire as an Oiler.

    But he’ll NEVER be a full time option.

  • April Fools or not Georges Laraque is brutal and that’s putting it kindly. He was a useless enforcer. It’s no good having an enforcer who just wants to do stage fights against the other teams enforcer. What good is he? Entertainment? Does he deter the scabs from taking cheap shots. NOPE!

    Laraque has never grabbed the scabs of the league and beat on them. He’s a stage fighter who squares up with other stage fighters and nothing more. On top of being useless as an enforcer when he handles the puck he thinks he’s got skills and hogs the puck. Never liked Georges, please stay retired.

    • Dipstick

      I agree with almost everything you said. Laraque would not be a viable deterrent. That being said, he was a stand up guy in the community. One last shot…..Green Party????…Seriously Georges?

  • JDP

    As much as I like George.Great book by the way. Insightful and filled with anecdotes of how and whys of what makes George who he is. I would welcome a return of george to the Edmonton Oilers. But not in playing capacity. I would like to see him do what Dave Semenko does,more of a corporate ambassador for the Oilers in the community. A role that he is very much suited to.Alternatively I think George would make a wonderful addition to the Oilers farm club(Stockton} as an assistant coach.He has a passion for the game and is a real people person. The younger prospects need ex-players like him to lean on to help through the development process.Rocky Thompson fills that roll at the Ahl level. George has many options. I for one after reading his book think that he should go back to school and become a lawyer. He has drive, determination and the intelligence to be able to succeed as a Lawyer. He always has stood up for the little guy.

    • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

      FFS MICHAEL, IT’S GEORGES.

      it appears as though the addition of another difficult name to spell would be to much for some of the oiler fanbase to overcome…

  • Dipstick

    Yes, let’s bring in another tough guy who other teams will refuse to fight. Let’s not recycle every old Oiler. It’s time to go in a new direction. The year is 2012, not 2006.

  • justDOit

    “Has spent much of the last year touring in support of his book…”

    So momentum for his book tour must be slipping away, and what’s the easiest way to get people talking about it again?

    Next blog please.

  • Bob Cobb

    Yeah and Chris Pronger is requesting a trade to Edmonton, Souray too and the Flames are actually going to make a smart move and trade Iginla. I’ll believe it when I see it.

  • Rob...

    Cool! Can we get Big George and then also sign Ted Nolan as coach. We haven’t had enough controversial Oilers willing to throw the team, management, or the city under the bus lately.

  • BigE91

    April fools or not one would have to surmise that Georges was long past being serviceable or useful in his role as an enforcer based on his exit as a member of the Canadiens. He didn’t have the appetite to get his hands dirty then, can’t see why that would have changed two years removed.

    Now how about Zack Stortini????

  • BigE91

    April fools or not one would have to surmise that Georges was long past being serviceable or useful in his role as an enforcer based on his exit as a member of the Canadiens. He didn’t have the appetite to get his hands dirty then, can’t see why that would have changed two years removed.

    Now how about Zack Stortini????

    Huh? Double post? Is this some kind of joke?

  • Zed

    Hey what’s the harm? Let him try out. The worst thing that could happen is he makes the roster.

    *realizes I just answered my own question

    Actually I’m a little insulted that he feels he can make the team.

    *takes another sip of koolaid

  • JDP

    Yeah, that ship has sailed.

    But let’s not stop there, let’s ditch Hordichuk and Eager while we’re at it. Not only are they ineffective at deterring opponents from cheap-shots on our young players, they bring nothing to the table on offense and are taking icetime from young players with some talent.

    IMO, this is Renney’s biggest failing this season, we’re the 2nd worst team in the league and he runs the 3rd and 4th lines as if we were a playoff contender.

  • JDP

    Georgie Porridgie back in Oilers silks. would love to see him back for 4 games a year. How many enforcers still dress anymore besides Parros.

    I’d bite on Lowe firing today, that would of been a good April fools joke.

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    Using the English equivilant to Goerges French name is not a mistake. Its like saying Canadians instead of Canadiens. If all you can add is that to the blog then go play in the snow. Have you read his book? Tell me what Georges father thought of his playing hockey if you read the book?

  • Milhouse Van Ched

    April Fools for sure!

    Sat next to Georges on a flight from Edmonton to Montreal in December. He has always been a big guy, but unless he has quit eating and is spending three quarters of his day in the gym since then, the only Edmonton team I can see him returning to is the Esks as a stationary centre on the O-line!

    I would have liked to see Georges finish his career with the Oilers, but he gave up on that chance to play with his hometown Habs – which was understandable. He probably would have gotten a few extra games in if he signed with the Oil.

  • Milhouse Van Ched

    “Using the English equivalent to Goerges French name is not a mistake.”(yes it was) “Its like saying Canadians instead of Canadiens.”(no it’s not).

    His name is Georges, Michael (unless you prefer the French spelling: Michaels)

    • BigE91

      Are you even literate. (Michaels)Michel is the male equivilant of Michael. Nobody taught you French as in school. Goodness learn another language. There are 2 offical languages in this country. 3 if we count yours. Which is bad English

  • Quicksilver ballet

    If George were to re-invent himself i could see him stepping back into the game. The Oilers would need the meanest of all George Laraques, the throw first ask questions later George. If it’s the old school Laraque that shows up at camp, he has as much chance as Theoren Fluery did at making the Flames in 2010.

    Bring da violence George.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Goerge is the sleep deprived guy on the left. The well tanned buff guy on the right is Lyle Kulchisky (Sparky), keeper of all the past Oiler greats. Lyle appears to be getting younger as yrs go by, wonder what his secret is.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Marek vs. Wyshynski(aka Puck Daddy)Sportsnet radio; George is interviewed, talks about the movie “Goon”, enforcers, his beginnings (incl his first Oilers exhibition game and how he got himself out of that game) his experiences, his thoughts on “If You Can Play, You Can Play” campaign, and what he says fighters really say to each other sometimes e.g. other guy asking him a Q and he shakes his ‘no’ but his bench thinks he was asked to fight lol.

    http://www.sportsnet.ca/podcast/marek_wyshynski/

    scroll down to the March 6 edition, 33:15 mark

    He seems like a great guy with a humongous heart, has done alot for Edmonton and when he did fight he was the best. So what could he bring back now that he’s ‘healthy’ again, and still loves Edmonton? Maybe it is worth a try out? He would definitely need to drop those embarassing polite invites to staged fights though.

    • Georges is a terrific guy who continues to do a lot of worthwhile work right across the country in the name of various charities. He was in Edmonton to help raise funds and awareness for a foundation that was started by Gordie and Colleen Howe.

      There is no debate Georges is a credit to the city or that he remains, and rightfully so, one of the most popular and well-liked players with Oilers fans.

      There is plenty of debate, however, whether Georges fits what the Oilers want and need at this point in his life. I can understand why Georges wants to come back, but I’m not even close to convinced he’s what this team needs now.

      I’m also not so sure that, having turned down Katz once, Georges will get another offer, given his decline in recent years.

  • danjo1

    Sorry George…we are already stocked up with veterans that can’t skate or score. Try Calgary…they “L-O-V-E” old guys.

    BTW are there enough television cameras in Edmonton for him to be happy?

  • This supposed comeback is indeed the worst idea that Ive ever heard. He had one move in his prime and that was to freeze the puck behind the goalie. The play would die after that. He might have problems even playing hockey for an old timers NHL club.

    • I don’t doubt Georges can get back into shape, but he’s way on the wrong side of 30 for the role he has to play.

      In addition, even in his prime, Georges was not known as a bully — a player who would go after anybody, no matter how big or how small, when warranted. If you’re dressing an enforcer to look out for the kids, he needs to approach the job the way Hordichuk does. That’s not in Laraque’s make-up.