So, Georges Laraque wants to play more, does he? Apparently, he feels he's not been used as much as he believed he would be when the Canadiens signed him last summer. He thinks if he doesn't get more ice time, he should be moved to another team that will give him what he wants.
Hmmm...okay. Let's think about this. The guy signed a contract last summer that will pay him a million and a half bucks every year for the next three. In return, he was expected...by fans and his teammates, at any rate...to punch guys who assaulted Canadiens goalies or abused smaller Habs players. Now, as far as I know, the Canadiens cheques haven't bounced. Yet Laraque isn't punching bad guys. Sure, he'll pre-arrange the occasional bout with the other team's goon. But that's not the sort of fight that inspires a team or qualifies as restitution for wrongs committed. When Milan Lucic hurt and embarrassed Mike Komisarek, Laraque's job was to tap Lucic on the shoulder and when Lucic refused to fight, Laraque was then supposed to take the instigator penalty and pound the guy anyway. Instead, he allowed Lucic to skate away because "he wasn't in the same weight class." When Kurt Sauer nailed Andrei Kostitsyn from behind, Laraque's job was to grab Sauer by the scruff of the neck and pop him one. Instead, he issued a politely-worded invitation to scuffle and while waiting for a reply got cuffed by the linesmen and sent off for roughing.
Well, sorry, Georges, I didn't know there were weigh-ins before the game and that policemen were bound to only arrest those who are big enough to qualify. Whatever happened to "you do the crime, you serve the time (in the box)?" As far as I can see, if a player is big enough to knock Carey Price down or hit Andrei Kostitsyn from behind, he's big enough to pay for it by having Laraque beat on him.
I don't like fighting in hockey, especially not the staged kind Laraque performs. But, if a team is going to employ a goon...and Laraque should have no illusions of grandeur about his role, because a goon he is...then a team expects the goon to do the job for which he was hired. When a goon can't keep up with the play because he's too slow, when he shows up at camp with recurring groin and back problems and misses extended periods of the season, when he's a minus five with two assists in 25 games, when five other fourth-liners on the team are outplaying him for ice time AND he's not punching people...what good is he?
Now, to make matters worse, Laraque has chosen the worst possible time to publicly bitch about his lack of playing time. The team is still struggling to emerge from a massive slump that could yet cost it a playoff berth. It's dealing with the fallout of accusations of excessive partying by some of the younger players, as well as the disclosure of the Kostitsyn brothers' association with an alleged drug trafficker. If the man has any brains at all, or has the least bit of concern for the fate of the team with which he's cast his lot for the next three years, he should know now is the time to keep his big yap shut. Now is the time to quietly express his concerns to Bob Gainey and let the GM deal with it as he sees fit. Taking it to the media at all, let alone at this point in the team's turbulent season, smacks of a me-first attitude that is the last thing the Canadiens need.
The problem with me-first is that it looks better in the mirror than it does with the naked eye. Laraque might think he's got the skills to contribute as an everyday player. He might believe his "Code"-governed brand of pseudo aggression is effective in preventing harm to his teammates. He possibly thinks his salary is fair compensation for the "skills" he brings to the game. Unfortunately for the Canadiens, just about every other GM in the league is sure to see a guy whose code has been antiquated by the reality of the game today. They'll see a guy who's played for five teams in four years because he's just not good enough at the things he wants to do, and not willing enough to do the thing he's good at, to earn a real place on a good team. And, they'll see a guy who's seriously overpaid for what he's not bringing.
If Laraque isn't smart enough to realize he's got it bloody made in Montreal, with his big salary and the legions who love him despite his failure to become an effective part of the team, he's got a serious problem. If he thinks he's more than a fourth-line player who will be shuffled in and out of the lineup like every other fourth-liner, and that he has a right to moan about it in public at the expense of team unity, then I hope he is traded.
Even if Bob Gainey shops him this week, though, I doubt there'll be a lineup for his services. So, shut up and take your money, Georges. We've seen what you can do, and we're not impressed.