Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Is this guy for real?

So, Georges Laraque is starting to get frustrated about his role on the team. Is anyone surprised?

Laraque told reporters Wednesday he expects to be traded by the March 4 deadline because apparently Guy Carbonneau doesn't like tough guys, and with his $1.5 million salary he's an expensive commodity to have sitting in the press box.

I personally feel Laraque hasn't delivered the goods this season when he was healthy, but that's actually pretty irrelevant in this case. Because whether he's doing a great job as an enforcer or he's just collecting a paycheck, the fact is you don't want any distractions coming from your tough guy.

An enforcer's role in the room is often the opposite, that of a glue guy who jokes around and keeps the guys loose. It is not a guy who starts complaining to reporters about sitting out of the lineup, that he's never been a healthy scratch this often in his career, that he never would have signed in Montreal if he knew this was how it was going to be, that he's "frustrated."

Those aren't the words of a glue guy, those are the words of someone putting himself ahead of the team.

Mathieu Dandenault during last year's playoffs was burning up inside that Carbonneau refused to dress him, believing his playoff experience could help a team that was clearly wilting under the pressure. But he never spoke up to reporters about it, denying interview request after interview request, until finally he cracked and gave one interview just before the Canadiens were eliminated by the Flyers. And I saw that interview as a last gasp attempt to get into a game, an attempt that ultimately failed.

What Laraque said Wednesday will not sit well in the coach's office or in the GM's, and it's entirely possible Laraque will get his wish as a result.

But what I find the most stunning aspect of the comments is that Laraque was asked point blank several times by reporters in training camp whether he could accept a less prominent role on the team, one where he would spend several nights watching games from up high in the press box instead of down below on the bench.

Over and over again, Laraque responded he was prepared to do whatever Carbonneau asked of him, that he just wanted to help the team, that he was so happy to be back playing in his hometown. Essentially, he said all the right things, drawn right from the players media relations guidebook.

But deep down, he must have known at the time that he wouldn't accept a situation like this, and more importantly he must have known that when he signed his contract. So either he was lied to during those negotiations and the Habs plan all along was to use him sparingly, or he's been a giant let down and this is Carbonneau's way of showing it.

Either way, Laraque would have been better served going to Carbonneau in private and talking to him about it man to man, rather than airing his dirty laundry to reporters.

It's entirely possible he's played his final game in a Canadiens uniform, and if indeed that's the way management wants to go, that decision was likely made no earlier than Wednesday.

And it was a decision made easy by Georges Laraque.


Sliver24 said...

I agree Laracque has been a bust overall, and this just drives the point home.

- He's been injured for much of the season.

- He'll tell anyone that will listen that he doesn't like fighting and even told one interviewer that the NHL should get goons out of the league.

- Whenever he does actually fight it looks like he's doing so against his will.

That being said, the Habs do need a heavyweight presence in the lineup.

One thing I can guarantee: had Laracque been dressed last night Shane O'Brien wouldn't have been running around the way he was.

(Did you see that cheap shot punch when O'Brien blindsided Stewart? That kid's tough! He took it with barely a blink and then gave O'Brien a doozy to the cheekbone.)

SRS said...

He's averaging about 250K a fight. What a joke. Good riddance George.

Sliver24 said...

Hey all,

B├ęgin is a Star:

I'm sorry to see him go...