At a crossroads
General manager Bob Gainey was at the Canadiens’ practice facility in Brossard on Thursday morning to give the media a look into what went down between the club and the Habs’ enforcer.
“I met with Georges Laraques this morning to inform him that the hockey department had decided to continue working towards our goal without the help of his services,” explained Gainey. “After evaluating the situation, two words came to the surface: production and distraction. If a player doesn’t have enough of one to cancel the other out, it’s time to take action. We believe the decision is what’s best for the team.”
With 12 games left heading into the Olympic break and the push for the postseason kicking into high gear, the Habs’ brass decided it was time to take action.
“My decision was made a little over a week ago, but because of Georges’ heritage and his close ties to the disaster in Haiti, the decision was delayed until it seemed more fitting,” admitted Gainey. “I met with Georges yesterday and offered him a leave of absence if he needed time to go to Haiti or needed time to be with his family. A similar situation happened with another player recently who needed time because of a personal problem in his family and Georges’ reply was that he did not need that.”
Since joining the team on a three-year deal in 2008, Laraque suited up for 61 games for the Canadiens, picking up five points and 89 penalty minutes in that span. While he won’t be playing any more games for the Habs, the 33-year-old is still technically a member of the organization.
“Georges will continue to be considered a player on our roster, which means we must keep the number of players we have to 22,” explained Gainey on the ramifications of Thursday’s decision. “Because Georges had a no-move clause in his contract, he could not be put on waivers and there were limited discussions regarding trades that weren’t fulfilled. He will continue to be paid and the amount of his contract and will continue to count as part of our cap number. As far as the future goes, we will review our options at the end of the season.”
Though Laraque could have been the missing piece added to the Habs’ puzzle two summers ago, Gainey couldn’t help but feel he hadn’t gotten exactly what he had bargained for in the team’s tough guy.
“My view is that a player in that role has a way of being productive in terms of helping the comfort level and confidence of their teammates both on and off the ice,” said Gainey regarding Laraque’s apparent strict adherence to the fighter’s code. “I don’t have a copy of Georges’ code; I don’t know what it is. I think the code is that it’s your teammates you’re here for. It’s not about your code, it’s our code.”
The Numbers Game
The Canadiens donate $159,553 to provide immediate relief to Haiti