SPITBALLING ON A RAINY DAY

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.

  • Reality Check to the head

    The problem with Laraque was that he could not keep up with speed of the game. However, without the ailing back issues and playing at 245lbs it would make for an interesting preseason tryout. BTW, how many times do we play the Flamers and canucks in the preseason? Twice I believe. Nice to see Laraque take on (out) a few of their players.

  • George…Yes. On the following conditions:

    (1) Two way contract
    (2) He needs to be physical with “every player” on the ice not just the other team’s tough guy.

    The big one is (2). The moment he stops being an equal opportunity pest/enforcer…he is sent down to OKC and buried there.

  • Mitch

    @Brownlee if Sutter has been given the job what is the hold up on an annoucement. Is it because Darryl still in the finals?

    Also for Big Georges I have no problem with it, I question his quickness not sure if he can keep up to todays pace. What is important is I can tell he’s ready to embrace this role even if it means 3-5 minutes a night. It’s so important that players on this team understand thier roles maybe Big George can help teammates embrace this. I would take 27 over 94 right now. I would like to see him at 225lbs to 230lbs I think 245 is to heavy.

  • ubermiguel

    Iggy can pull a Ray Bourque and come here in a couple of years. How sweet would it be to see Iggy in Oilers silks lifting the Cup over his head? And not just to piss off Calgary, but because he’s a class-act by all accounts.

  • Poor George doesn’t seem to know what to do with himself. One day he’s a hockey player, another day he’s an author telling everyone about the players taking steroids, another day he’s into politics. Now he wants to come back into the Oilers fold and almost sounds like he’d volunteer. Pay him less and play him less. Sounds desperate to me. I always liked him, but his time is over. As far as Sutter goes, I think he’d be a benefit to have behind the bench. Iggy may end up on another team, but not ours. Love to have him though.

  • ubermiguel

    Poor George doesn’t seem to know what to do with himself. One day he’s a hockey player, another day he’s an author telling everyone about the players taking steroids, another day he’s into politics. Now he wants to come back into the Oilers fold and almost sounds like he’d volunteer. Pay him less and play him less. Sounds desperate to me. I always liked him, but his time is over. As far as Sutter goes, I think he’d be a benefit to have behind the bench. Iggy may end up on another team, but not ours. Love to have him though.

  • “@Brownlee if Sutter has been given the job what is the hold up on an annoucement. Is it because Darryl still in the finals?”

    The NHL does frown on teams releasing significant stories during the finals. That aside, I’m not sold on the Sutter-has-the-job rumour.

  • BRING ON THE LARAQUE!!!! I honest don’t give a rat’s a** what he plays like, as long as it is clear that he can walk out and take the 5 min major and 10 minute misconduct for punching any offender right in the face. Take the suspension, it doesn’t matter. Scare the bejesus out of em George. Honestly, take the insitgator, it’s worth it. Give the old boy a camp invite it can’t hurt.

    Go Oil!

  • stevezie

    I understand the con argument, but I for one am all too happy to have a half-baked unverified rumour passed on. Isn’t this why a lowly blog would associate with someone with real connections? To hear juicy gossip before it’s in the news?

    I like Laroque as a person and hope it works out for him, but I’m one of those sissies who considers pure enforcers a waste of a roster spot. In his prime George could play a bit too, but even if he’s healthy he’s still 35. Sail on, George, I hope you land on your feet somewhere, but not here.

    Iggy would make perfect sense here, depending on his future contract demands. No way Calgary trades him to us, and I have my doubts he’d sign here for fear of ruining his legacy, which he clearly cares about. The Battle ain’t what it was, but I think it’ll be enough to keep this logical thing from happening. Good, I say. Sports aren’t supposed to be rational.

  • Reg Dunlop

    Pass on George. How is he an upgrade on Hordichuk (who i would rather us not re-sign) other than his popularity? Great for George if he wants to return but I hope that it’s somewhere else. He wasn’t a great player in his prime and as motivated as he might be, father time catches up with everybody and especially with somebody who plays his style of game. We need to get out of this cycle of recycling old players and coaches or we’ll begin to look like the Flames.

    I really hope that the Oilers are keeping an open mind as far as the head coach goes. Think outside the box. Guys like Dan Bylsma and Guy Boucher have proven that NHL experience is not always necessary to have success in your first stint as a head coach. I really hope that we give Jon Cooper a serious look if Tampa lets us talk to him.

  • Reg Dunlop

    Has everyone lost their minds? Is it ergot poisoning? Big Georges, Iggy, Ollie? We need young, agressive speed not old washed-up sticky slow. Dodd has it right; we need an instigator not a reactor made obsolete by the rules. There must be some hungry, fast-skating prospects out there willing to slash, chop,face wash and generally be an ass.

    Secondly,with all due respect Mr. Brownlee, why do we always see pics of old Einstein? He was on top of his game at 25,by the end with the wild hair he was cutting out paper dolls and talking to his dog. On second thought, maybe drooling Einstein is a fitting image for my oil=FUBB

    Finally, whats with the pic of Alice the Goon? I love Popeye, I love Popeye. Anyone else raised on Popcorn Playhouse? Oh, thats Sutter… or is it?

  • Reg Dunlop

    @Stevezie

    I guess ‘washed up’ might be exaggerating, but he can see Washed Up from where his lawn chair sits. At 35, like Smitty, there is no upside. And I don’t see the flames unloading him with the veteran-phile coach they signed.

  • “Secondly,with all due respect Mr. Brownlee, why do we always see pics of old Einstein? He was on top of his game at 25,by the end with the wild hair he was cutting out paper dolls and talking to his dog. On second thought, maybe drooling Einstein is a fitting image for my oil=FUBB”

    I see a lot of pictures of hot dames being posted here with some articles, but I’ve missed the steady stream of Einstein pix you refer to. Over the last month, the hubba-hubba pix outnumber the Einstein photos about, what, 50-1?

  • Reg Dunlop

    @Mr.Brownlee

    Some might argue that there are far too few hubba-hubba pics here. But, please, carry on with the occasional Einstein pic. I was refering more to pop culture in general using Einstein’s image(and Darwin’s image) to sell products or get a laugh.

  • Reg Dunlop

    KLOWE pushed for Big Georges 2 summers ago after his Montreal exit. Thankfully sanity prevailed. Georges showed no malice and earned little territory for teammates 2001+ whether it was in Edmonton, Phoenix, PIttsburgh, and Montreal. A lot of teams have given up on him in the last 5 years due to the execution of his job and perhaps some distractions that come with the Big Georges being around.

    Good community guy; not a good enforcer his final 8 years. I wish him all the best in his continued retirement.

  • Reg Dunlop

    I have no idea whether Sutter, Kreuger or someone else will be the new coach, but if it is in the bag for Sutter I don’t see the point of pretending to conduct a search.
    I am much more concerned about Matty’s continued shilling for Murray as the top pick. I can only hope that his opinion isn’t ST or one of his minions whispering in Matty’s ear to soften us for the shock of such a stupid move. My fear is that ST, knowing the Oilers holes on defence will limit their improvement this year will put his present ahead of the Oilers future, knowing Yakupov is a far surer bet and a potential superstar.

  • Are ther any enforcers still playing hockey?The refs will penalize any enforcer that skates close to an opposing player.Andy sutton gets one borderline call every game.A player like Raffi Torres or kyle Clutterbuck would be much more efective to deliver a message,Or better yet get the other team off of there game.

  • Reg Dunlop

    Iggy back in edmonton so what would the oil look like if that happened. Iggy RW so that means Hemmer must go if we draft Yakupov, could this be the reason they aren’t sold on the russian? trade for Iggy move Hemmer to LW draft murray. So it would be Hall, RNH, Ebs 2nd line of Hemmer, Gagner, Iggy With adding Scultz and Murray to the D hmmm the top 6 look like alot of skill and a little tougher to. good luck to tambo doubt it will happen BUT it’s out there