The Montreal Canadiens started another tough part of the calendar Thursday. Come to think of it, every part of the calendar is a tough one as the team can perform its worst as easily as it can play its best.
The Dallas Stars were in town to challenge our boys, and Carey Price was in net with a mandate to stop them.
He was not without trouble, but helped the team get a 5-3 win over the western guests.
The Stars opened the score, which was 2-1 in their favour by the end of the first period. The numbers were tied 3-3 by the end of the second, but the Habs sealed the issue with two goals in the last period.
The greatest story of the night is not however the five goals scored or the free chicken wings at the Cage aux Sports. It was not Carey Price’s 11th win of the season or his 33 saves. It was not Benoit Pouliot’s seventh goal of the season, fifth as a Hab.
It was Georges Laraque.
Laraque’s season has not been what many had expected. In fact, his entire trip with the Canadiens hasn’t been quite the tale of a lifetime, which is a surprise given to the hype surrounding his arrival.
Despite a few courageous tries by Mike Komisarek and Tom Kostopoulos, the team was in need of an official enforcer.
General Manager Bob Gainey responded by proposing a three-year, $4.5 million contract to the ultimate enforcer, Laraque, who just became a free agent that summer.
Even on Wikipedia, it says “currently plays for the Montreal Canadiens in the National Hockey League as an enforcer.”
Prior to the Habs, he totaled 1,037 penalty minutes in 634 games. His role is crystal clear!
Who can forget his very first game as a Habs, on season opening night at the Bell Centre in October 2008?
Everyone was looking forward to seeing him play, and do what he does best, as the team was taking on its hated rivals, the Boston Bruins.
A little more than two minutes into the first period, on his very first shift, he met Shawn Thornton the moment he stepped on the ice. Talking about a big introduction!
Unfortunately, what we can be sure about a Hockey season is that nothing is ever sure.
Laraque’s first season has been struck by so many injuries that he ended up playing only 33 games for the entire year. His time away from the rink also includes healthy scratches by then head coach Guy Carbonneau.
We are now midway through his second season as a Montreal Canadiens, and he has played 26 games to date, which is quite decent despite his back problems.
His number of the games played is not the problem. His ice time is.
He was averaging around seven-to-eight minutes per game at the start of the season. In December, however, his time considerably dropped to a point at which people started to wonder what the head coach had in mind regarding his role—or if he had anything in mind at all actually!
He even played only 01:59 against Minnesota on Dec. 17.
However, that seems to be just a detail, a tiny dot in a novel, compared to what he is currently enduring on the personal side.
His close family lives in Haiti, where his heart, his mind and his prayers currently are as a devastating earthquake hit the country.
Both of his parents are from there, and, in an interview with The Gazette , he said they have been trying to reach his first cousin’s parents since the tragedy.
It is quite something that, despite all the emotional turmoil the situation is causing, Laraque still finds the energy to even think about Hockey. But he does, and yesterday he gave his best and scored his very first goal of the season—also his very first as a Montreal Canadiens.
Securing a rebound off of Marty Turco, he has tied the game 2-2 in the second period.
The expression on his face and the way he celebrated the goal was priceless, and no word could ever describe it. It could have been joy, it could have been relief, or both. He looked up and it appeared to be a “thank God.”
He later said in his post-game interview to RDS that he dedicated the goal to all the Haitians.
We are not sure of what Laraque’s destiny will be with the Canadiens. Gainey and Martin might have other plans regarding the new direction of this team; and $1.5 million to warm the bench two periods a game is quite expensive.
But for BGL, it is not what matters now.
Please pray for Haiti; if you can help, please do. Here is a way.