We’ve all heard, and some have experienced, the saying, “Hell hath no worry like a woman scorned.” I’ve done many dumb things in my life, but thankfully I’ve never had to endure the wrath of a scorned woman. Women have a long memory and I’m sure those who are scorned need to be taken seriously, but after speaking with George Laraques yesterday the fury of “Enforcer with something to prove,” might be akin to that of the scorned ladies.

I’ve known Laraque for over ten years, and he’s usually pretty laid back. We haven’t always seen eye-to-eye, but I’ve always respected him and his role of a tough guy. It is the hardest job in pro sports. It is easy for guys to sit in the stands or at home on the couch and claim they would fight for a living, but the reality is 99% of you couldn’t handle it.

The last time I spoke with Georges was in January when he was in town for a charity Ringette game. He said life was good. His kids were keeping him busy, he was heavily involved in charitable events and he mentioned that he physically he hadn’t felt better. He joked that maybe he was feeling too good,  he weighed around 280, but his back wasn’t bothering him anymore so life was good.

In the past few weeks I’d read a few comments that Laraque was considering a comeback. I was stunned. I never thought he’d want to play again. He was the toughest guy in the league for a long time, but he never liked fighting. It was his job, but unlike some tough guys, he never loved it.

Yesterday I had Laraque on my show, and he didn’t mince his words when he spoke with Robin Brownlee and I.

JG: There’s been some talk of a comeback for you. Is that serious, have you had any contact with any teams? 

GL: Yes actually, it’s really serious. After two years, my back is 100%. My herniated disk got absorbed and now I feel healthy. So I started training with a personal trainer for months before I actually told my agent that I wanted to try one more time, and ever since I told him everything’s been good. I’m back to the same weight that I was playing in Montreal, I’m back to 255 and I’m going to go down to 245. I’ve been running and training with a power skating coach again.

But to be back at what I’m doing, and what I told my agent was that obviously I’m not stupid enough to think that and someone  is going to offer me a contract. I’m asking them for a tryout. I just want to get a tryout after free agency, after July 1st. I know that a lot of teams are looking to see what other teams are going to do, where the guys are going to go. And then depending on the teams, how big they get and what they’re going to do, I might get a chance to get a tryout in those areas.

I told him to tell the team that I’m willing to play for minimum salary and that I don’t care what my role will be; whether I’m playing every two games, every three games or whatever. I’m just trying to get a chance to finish my career on my own terms, not the way that my career ended in Montreal.

In Montreal I wasn’t healthy and when you get released it’s not always fun so that’s why I told him (agent) I was really serious and see what’s going to be there. And so teams are waiting until July 1st (to talk to me) because obviously the guys that are playing in the league will have a priority.

When I get an invitation (to camp)  it’s up to me that when I get a chance to play exhibition games, to grab every single guy in front of me and beat the shit out of them. That’s what I have to do to show everybody I haven’t lost anything. Show everybody that all of the tough guys in the league that make 8 and 900 000, that I can do a better job than them at the minimum salary. And hopefully I can get a team interested and after that if I do get a chance, I’m not going to miss it.

JG: That’s interesting coming from you because you never liked the fighting aspect. Obviously that was what you were good at, but this would seem like you’d be going back to being the young guy and having to prove yourself all over again. Is that how you see it?

GL: You’re 100% right. I would feel like the young guy that has to prove himself. I never liked fighting, I still don’t, but now it’s different. Now I’m motivated. Now I feel that I have something to prove. Now I know that I would have to fight to get that chance to make that team. And now it’s totally different because now when I look at the guy in front of me instead of smiling and laughing like I always fought, and I’ve rarely fought with any anger, now I would be mad.

I would fight mad because I would look at a guy that would try to stop my dreams, to stop the chance that I have to make it one more time. So it would be totally different and with motivation like that, I wouldn’t want to be the guy in front of me during that time because it would be really dangerous.

Nothing is more dangerous than a guy that is motivated and that has a goal and that’s truly what I would do. If I do get a chance as I told you before, I’m not going to miss it. I’m not going to just go with the flow because if I go with the flow nothing is going to happen. I have to provoke things.

 If it means that I have to do something, get suspended or whatever… I’m not in the same mindset that I was when I was playing. So we’ll see what will happen. If I get that chance it will be good. If I don’t then things didn’t change anyways. So I have nothing to lose. I played 13 years in the league, I feel really fortunate to play in the greatest league in the world and now I’m trying one more time at it and we’ll see what’s going to happen.

RB:  The one thing that people criticized you for was being too nice a guy, going by the code, being too honourable almost, not being that mean S.O.B. that would just grab someone and as you said just beat the crap out of them. When I talk to fans in Edmonton about you maybe coming back that’s the criticism they’ve raised. They know you’re tough, they know you’re respected, but where you good enough at just being that bully. Would Edmonton automatically be on your short list if they extended an invitation to you?

GL: Ya obviously if Edmonton asked me, I would go there in a heartbeat. I would be happy to because my kids are there, I still live there, I have the house down there so it would be really good. But in terms of what you’re saying and you’re 100% true, people criticised that fact that I was too nice. I fought over 130 times in 13 years but I was too nice.

From 2000-2010 most of the guys would say that I was the toughest guy in the league but that I was too nice. I was fighting  for a living, but I was too nice. So for me that’s a contradiction because I was fighting but I was too nice. So really, was I too nice because maybe I didn’t want to kill somebody? Maybe when I was fighting I didn’t damage them in the way that for the rest of their life they would be affected by it.

To me it’s important to fight with a code obviously because if something happens to someone, if I put somebody in a coma, I have to deal with it. Me and no one else. The way that I look at it is if I was too nice, or if I wasn’t enough of a bully, how would the team play against us, were they respecting us? Well I think that there was a difference in Edmonton when I was there and when I wasn’t there.

After I wasn’t there people would say we don’t need a tough guy, we don’t need a tough guy. But then when I was gone, Boogaard was the most valuable player in Minnesota because he would take the head of everyone in Edmonton and then people started to get plagued by injury, and everybody started getting hurt. And then people realised after that they needed a tough guy and then they tried to find one.

They know that the role is very important, but whether I was too nice or not, every team that I played on always got respected. They never got pushed around and people, even though they thought that I was too nice, they never thought that ‘Oh Georges is so nice I’m going to run around and he’s not going to go after me.’

But I’m a tough guy and even if no one did anything I would still go and fight them anyway. So whether people thought that I would go at it or that I was too nice the results were there. But now it’s different, because I’m coming back and I have something to prove. I know that going with the flow and being so nice and stuff like that is not going to do anything.

My mindset it this, I’m not just showcasing myself for the team that will give me a tryout, because they may not necessarily give me a contract, so during the exhibition games I have to make noise so that all of the 29 other teams will see what I’m capable of. And if they release me, maybe after they just use me to fill in the roster in training camp well then maybe I can get a chance to play somewhere else.

JG: Could you intimidate without just fighting? Because there is only a handful or two of guys that would even be willing to drop the gloves with you.

GL: That’s obviously one of the things that would have to happen; I’d need to provoke things. Towards the end (of career), Pittsburgh and Montreal had guys like Talbot, Lapierre, who would irritate the hell out of everyone on the other team and they would have the green light to do whatever they wanted because I was there. I could fit in as a fourth line energy guy. I don’t know in Edmonton who would be the energy for the fourth line, but you get a banger that people hate to play against and would want to take their head off.

And when they are playing with a guy like me you can imagine what he would get away with. Imagine what he would do to antagonize the other team more knowing that I was present. This time the guys that I would play with I would tell them to run around and chirp whoever you want and no one’s going to touch you tonight.

If I get a chance teams well see that whoever they put me out with they will all have the same attitude; to feel confident that they are safe being the antagonizers.

And that way I could get people to notice that I haven’t really lost the touch. Remember, I’ve only been gone for two years, and when you’ve been gone for two years and you come back there is something called muscle memory and some things that you never forget and you don’t lose.

It’s not like I’m 45 years old, and been out of the game for ten years. I’ve been out for two years and for those two years I was analysing hockey, I was watching the game. I know the guys that are there, I know the training, and I know what I have to do to get back in shape. I’m crossing my fingers and going to see what will happen.

RB: When you were making your name in the league, you were the young guy coming up and the skilled guys on the team were older than you. Now In Edmonton the skilled guys are the young kids. Do you see a need for a guy in your role in Edmonton?

GL: You know, Edmonton needs it more than anyone else and they don’t have anybody. Last year they were playing this role with Hordichuk, with Ben Eager and not that I have anything against those players, they are really good role players but if you can get a guy, say for example that can do the job and doesn’t take two roster spots, a guy that isn’t on always on the 20-man roster, maybe it is better.

 Teams have 23 players and so you get a few players that might only play against tough teams or whatever, but you need a guy in the lineup that scares people, that intimidates teams and I don’t think that those two guys necessarily do.

Because you have such a young team, you need somebody to protect the core and you need a role player like me. I won’t take somebody’s roster spot because you are an extra, and everything you do is extra. It’s almost like a bonus. I’d be there to complement those guys, to get them to play bigger, play more freely and not be afraid of being run around.

Look at the years that the Oilers had all of their success with Dave Semenko. I know that he could play and that he was a good player but the role hasn’t changed. LA does it for one, they have Westgarth, and even though he didn’t play in the Stanley Cup Finals the reason why all of those guys were able to play in the playoffs and they were healthy was because he was protecting them all year.

The guys on the team know he had a role in helping them win the cup. It was the same as when Dave Brown did it, even though he didn’t play a game in the playoffs, we all remember when Mark Messier gave him the cup and his teammates knew he played a part in getting them to the playoffs.

The tough guy has an important role to play in the regular season games. He has to ensure that when playoff time comes all of those guys (skilled players) are healthy and they are not hampered by injury due to other teams taking advantage of them. They can play the game without having to worry about anything and that is what my role will be; to make sure that the young Oilers team, if they make the playoffs, that the guys are healthy because they didn’t get banged around all season long.


I doubt we’ll see smiling Georges when he returns. He sounds like a man with something to prove and he’s hoping for an opportunity. I’m certain numerous teams will offer him an invite to training camp. In the preseason you are required to dress ten “veterans” every night, and like Laraque said maybe they will just use him to fill up one of those spots so regular veterans won’t have to play.

If Laraque is willing to intimidate with his gloves on and off I’m sure he’ll garner some interest, especially from teams in the tougher Eastern Conference.

If he does get a shot, I wouldn’t want to be the young fighter who has to line up against him in his first preseason game, because it sounds like he has two years of “scorned” frustration he wants to release.

  • Zamboni Driver

    If you think bringing back Laraque is a good idea, you seriously SERIOUSLY need to start watching hockey other than whatever it has been the Oilers have been playing since 2006.

    Laraque is not, and never was a hockey player.

    Didn’t like to fight (aka the only thing he was actually good at). Had ZERO clue when to fight. Intimidated absolutely no one (other than the other team’s goon I guess….and guess what? THERE ARE NO GOONS ANYMORE.)

    This is the dumbest thing I’ve heard.


    P.S. Everyone thought bringing back “Smytty” was a great idea. Smyth used to be able to play. How did that one work out for ya?

    • oilersplumber

      You must be joking…….or your another one of those 5″ 6″ types……the saying 20/20 hindsight was created for this situation. Not much fabric left on the armchair, or enamel on the molars I? bet………

      • A-Mc

        Zamboni Driver is out to lunch.

        Considering the 4 players who ended up with more points on the season than Smytty were a group of 18-22 year old hot shots, i dont think anyone can argue that Ryan hasn’t done his part.

        In RNH’s case, Ryan Smyth is literally TWICE his age!

        Smyth isn’t a super star but he’s far from washed up.

        • oilersplumber

          I have no issues with your argument A-Mc.RS was brought in as an example to the younger crew and ethics demonstration (insert “work” here)….along with what he could produce to assisst the offence….. Sometimes though, I think all these arm chair studs can’t really see the forest for the trees. Or the actual game that is afoot……..I must say…I am no superlative Frankenstat fan. However, I did play at Tier one level and was involved in a Mem Cup win for the west in the late 70’s, additionally I have a close relative (by marriage) with his name on Stanley and all the stories to go with it. It certainly gives you a different perspective than all the “Div 1” studs.

          We need a defenceman, a goalie (let doobie play), and some creative planning……..”stop the stifle”……..

    • Didnt Smyth play the second most minutes for a forward this year?(behind Horcoff) was he not on the PK every single game(which improved from last year, without him)? Did he not score 18 goals on the 29th placed team at 36 years old? Was he not one of the only guys on the team to stay healthy all season?(which has tremendous value, especially on this club)

      You don’t like George coming back, fine, this team needs Smyth.

  • Neilio

    Even though I live by Calgary I always try to listen to your show in the pm. After I dropped my son off in Brooks and drove home yesterday I heard your interview with Big Georges. I would offer him a TC invite.

    Let’s face it, Hordichuk was underwhelming in his role, he gave it his all, but other than in the one game vs Minnesota, where he drew a couple of penalties, he didn’t bring much to the table.

    The one thing I remember about Georges what that he was a load on the boards controlling the puck down low in the Offensive zone. If he brings what he promises and can still dominate on the boards, then he is clearly an upgrade. Sign him, Konopka and Tootoo and then you have a gritty 4th line.

  • Neilio

    I vote yes.
    Every time the Oilers have a line change, I want the other team wondering what the hell is coming at them next.

    “Good Georges or Bad Georges?”

    “Crap! We forget about Hemsky in the pregame talk.”

    “Oh oh . . . are Hall and Yakupov playing a game of “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better?”

    “Is Andy Sutton in a good mood this evening?”

    “Did I just glimpse the Eight-Point Twinkle in Gagner’s eye?”

    If Big Georges is true to his words, it adds another element to throw the opposition off-balance. Give him the pre-season. If that works, give him his minimum salary, while making it clear that he is essentially on a game-to-game contract.

  • oilersplumber

    DK likes him………..expect him to get at least a look….. Georgie would be a huge “Semenko” like deterrent…as for you guys that don’t see a “role” for a guy like this….give your head a shake……despite that kool aid being fed to you by the media……the game has not changed all that much…..theres still plenty of bravado boastin’, dick wavin’, large yapped, dooche bags out there….oh…but wait a sec…..they skate faster now……..too funny…
    anyhoo GL to GL….

  • D_broderant

    Interesting conversation with big George. I wish him all the luck in the world hope he gets his chance. It won’t be in Edmonton, however.

    If the Oilers are looking for a cheap heavy weight I believe local boy Matt Kassian is a UFA and is rumoured not be offered a contract from Minnesota.

  • Neilio

    There is no harm in giving him a tryout. He is right in that Eager and Hordichuck don’t intimidate anyone. Eager was a non-factor most of the year. Hordi is willing, but he is more of a light heavyweight. Any tough guy on another team is more than happy to tangle with him.

    We have been cursed by injuries ever since he left. There can be no disputing that. And we’ve had an endless string of guys who we’ve tried to replace him with that either couldn’t play hockey or couldn’t intimidate anyone.

    Its a pretty low risk try-out.

  • vetinari

    Only one value to having GL in camp and that would be to motivate Eager to take his job more serious. Tough guy fighting tough guy is such a waste of time today, even the fans hate.
    Slat432 had it dead on

    “To be a good enforcer, you have to push around their skill players, you have to grab Steve Ott by the back of the jersey and drag him away from your players. You have to skate up to Alex Burrows and say “If you come near Dubnyk again, I am going to carve Schneider like a turkey.”

    Eager has the speed to actually catch these guys and do as promised, he just needs the motivation.

  • I would have to have a very seriour conversation with George to ensure our ideas of enforcer were the same. If he was willing to find anyone, anytime, and not restricting himself to other teams heavyweights I would give him a tryout.

    If everyone remembers he was a beast on the cycle. If he turned his back to you and pushed back there were a lot of players he could simply skate backwards from behind the net out to the front.

    He is a scary fighter and I have no doubt he would still be the best fighter in the NHL. The lone issue I had with George was that he only wanted the other team’s heavyweight, and there simply are not enough Boogards out there to warrant an enforcer with that attitude. It is rare that it is the other team’s enforcer taking cheap shots and running your skilled players, and if someone like Avery runs Nuge going after that team’s heavyweight may be entertaining but it in no way deters someone like Avery.

    Laraque grabbing Avery, turning him around, and beating him unconscious would be a deterant. If he simply asks them to fight and they say no……that is not good enough.

    If he has not lost a step, and is more aggressive in engaging, andwill fight anyone;
    I want him on the team. Obviously ST would need to talk to Kreuger and see how he feels, and how he would be deployed, because an enforcer only works if a coach is willing to use him properly.

    During the regular season he should not have to ask the coach if he can fight unless it is a staged fight with the other team’s enforcer. If he sees someone taking liberties on one of our stars he should go after him like a swarm of mad bees the next time he is on the ice.

    I say give him a tryout, there is nothing to lose, and at very least it makes preseason more entertaining, and then he can be cut loose if they deem he is not an improvement on the team.

  • vetinari

    I would be willing to at least offer him a tryout at camp. A tryout is a tryout– it’s not a committment and you could let Krueger assess whether he wants him on the roster or not.

    On a side note, I think you have a typo at the paragraph that begins:

    “To me it’s important to fight with a code obviously because if something happens to someone, if I put somebody in a comma, I have to deal with it. Me and no one else.”

    I would be scared of someone who could bend me into the shape of a punctuation mark. However, I think that I would rather be unconscious in those circumstances, like in a “coma” if that happened.

  • D_broderant

    If the Oilers want a tough guy to play limited 4th line minutes and protect the team they should sign UFA Matt Kassian! He is a beast at 6’4, 240lb and he can play. He’s a local boy from Sherwood Park and only 25 years old. I don’t think he’s lost a fight yet in the NHL and he even has some hands (scored twice in one game on Carey Price last year). He has been a fan favorite wherever he plays because he works hard and is a great, team first kind of guy, not to mention no one can match him in a fight.

    Remember when he destroyed Hordichuk twice in the same game last year? I bet Darcy does, that is if his head has cleared up after those fights.

    Thoughts Jason?

  • justDOit

    Everyone says that Semenko could play the game, which is why he was an effective tough guy, but could he play in today’s league? The goalies don’t look like Lemelin any more, Harold Snepts has retired, and The Great One isn’t around to draw defenceman out and then feed you the perfect pass.

    That said, there’s not much risk in giving Georges a tryout. If Hords is left unsigned and Eager is sent packing, that extra roster spot can be filled with a player.

  • RPG

    Sounds like the same George to me, still doesn’t like fighting, still doesn’t understand what people mean when they say he was too nice and still thinks the game holds a place for the super heavyweight over and above ‘role players’ like Hordichuk and Eager.

    Thanks but no thanks, this team doesn’t need any more distractions from yesteryear, they need to start showing some frigg’n progress.

    Besides, he for 10 years he fought the biggest guys in the game and was able towalk away healthy, even if it wasn’t on his terms. It’s probably best he doesn’t poke the hockey gods by making a comeback.

    • RPG

      ya I agree, he is an upgrade from Hordi. And at a league min. its not really much of an issue other than a roster spot. Can he be signed to a 2 way contract? The reason I ask this is because its not likely the Oilers would be able to find another enforcer that would be willing to do a 2way but that option gives them the freedom to move pieces around easier should some guys earn NHL tryouts throughout the season. I would invite him to training camp and just see what happens. The last thing the Oilers need is to go into a game against a team with GL on it. They already have enough problems with those types of teams.

  • slats432

    As much as I enjoy Gregor’s show, that was just an infomercial for GL.

    It wasn’t that he was too nice (Although the “Good Luck Man” to Ivanas was a little much), it was that GL doesn’t understand the role of the enforcer. A staged fight with the other team’s big guy does nothing for the Oil, himself, or enforce anything.

    There were times here when someone was getting in the grill of our skilled players and GL would stand and watch.

    To be a good enforcer, you have to push around their skill players, you have to grab Steve Ott by the back of the jersey and drag him away from your players. You have to skate up to Alex Burrows and say “If you come near Dubnyk again, I am going to carve Schneider like a turkey.”

    All of which GL is/was clueless about. Pass, thank you for your years of service.

    • Jason Gregor

      Which is why I asked him if he felt he could intimidate with the gloves on.

      And I don’t think Edmonton offers him a tryout, but I suspect a team in the East will.

    • Jason Gregor

      Stauffer isn’t always right, far from it. I don’t expect the Oilers to give him tryout, but like Gregor said I bet another team would. What do they have to lose. If he can’t play you cut him. Pretty simple.

      • RPG

        He might get a tryout however I don’t see him making any team. His foot speed was suspect at best in his prime. Taking 2 years off and now being in his mid thirties. No way he can keep up even with the other teams 4 liners.

        Being a road team and putting GL out there just means the other team might put their 1st or 2nd liners out there and it would be a disaster.

        Sure, invite him to camp. Give your fans a reason to come to the exhibition games then cut him loose.

  • RPG

    NHL minimum salary sure beats being a member of the Green Party or whatever Laraque was doing.

    Pass. Pass. Pass on him. I pray that Katz doesn’t hire him because they’re friends. That would be a huge mistake.

    People don’t change that much and I think that this is all rhetoric to get him a job. He isn’t ever going to be nuclear deterrent.

  • Banger

    wow i had some serious deja vu as i read that article. It was almost like some of the questions got asked and answered a couple of times. I gotta ease off the bottle this early in the morning.

  • Aitch

    A fist for Laraque?

    If he can still skate, lug the puck and is now willing to mix it up a little more than he did in his first go-around, I could see him lacing ’em up again. And from the sounds of this article, well, Mr. T said it best… “I pity the fool.”