The curious case of Georges Laraque

Jeff Gross

"He's tough, but he's more of a wrestler. He will try to drag guys to the ground, but he's not a finisher," said Laraque, ironically.

Georges Laraque carved up Marc Bergevin's latest addition, George Parros, in a statement to La Presse this morning:

"Je connais Parros, et c'est un bon gars. Il va y aller, il va défendre ses coéquipiers. Mais Boston n'aura pas peur de lui. Toronto et Ottawa non plus, a lancé Laraque en entrevue avec La Presse. Je suis persuadé que quand le Canadien a signé Parros, les Bruins étaient soulagés. Shawn Thornton était soulagé. À Ottawa, on était soulagé."

"Ce n'est pas un gars qui fait mal. C'est un gars qui a joué universitaire. Oui, il est tough, mais c'est un lutteur, ajoute Laraque. Il va essayer d'emmener le gars par terre. Mais ce n'est pas un finisher."

Translation:

"I know Parros and he's a good guy. He will defend his teammates, but Boston will not be afraid of him. Toronto or Ottawa either. I am convinced that Ottawa, Boston and Shawn Thornton were all relieved once Montreal signed Parros.

He's not a guy who hurts people or intimidates. He's a university guy. Yes, he's tough, but he's more of a wrestler. He will try to drag guys to the ground, but he's not a finisher."

Strong words from the former tough guy turned gentle giant. In case these comments that are dripping in irony don't ring a bell, Laraque was bought out by the Canadiens after a disappointing 2 years, the last of which he put up fewer penalty minutes than tough guy Benoit Pouilot, essentially refusing to fight at all.

Laraque was brought in to stem the flow of cheap shots and liberties that opponents were continuously taking with Habs players. Yet he failed miserably to produce any sort of intimidation, abiding by an unwritten 'code' which resulted in smaller players continuously receiving abuse without any repercussions from the overpaid goon.

Parros however, was not brought to Montreal to strike fear in the hearts of Bruins and Leafs players. He was brought to Montreal to alleviate some of the workload on middleweight Brandon Prust, and keep the bench nice and warm for the regular players.

These will be Parros' opponents next year within the division, if, and when, he gets to see the ice:

Colton Orr , Frazer McLaren, Mark Fraser, Matt Kassian, Chris Neil, Zack Smith, Shawn Thornton, Milan Lucic, Adam McQuaid, John Scott, Steve Ott, Erik Gudbranson and B.J. Crombeen.

Not a single one of those potential match-ups would be a mismatch.

In fact, Parros has already fought the toughest guys in the division, and he hasn't fared badly against the biggest one. More to the point, Parros ended Colton Orr's season a few years ago.

No matter how often Parros is used, the point remains that he will undoubtedly match Laraque's contribution to the Montreal Canadiens, which was, charitable work aside, a big fat nothing.

Laraque's tenure with Montreal was a comedy of errors, and no matter how valid his comments may seem, he should be the last person to be making such statements.

Parros has partaken in 47 fights in the last three seasons, over 163 games.

Laraque partook in 43 fights in his final five seasons, 223 games, until his buyout.

Laraque provided no intimidation in his shortened tenure with the Habs. He wrestled his way through his last (infrequent) fights. He did not scare any opposition, and he certainly was not a 'finisher'.

Perhaps I am being too harsh towards Laraque. He certainly is speaking from experience. He was arguably the worst 'tough guy' signing in Montreal Canadiens history.


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