November 07, 2011
Former Edmonton Oilers enforcer Georges Laraque(notes) has a new book out. Perhaps you're heard of it, what with the accusations that the NHL is filled with more juice than a Florida orange grove.
But "The Story of the NHL's Unlikeliest Tough Guy" also includes Laraque's candid thoughts about his NHL career, including the coaches he's played for … like when he was a member of the Phoenix Coyotes, for example.
Laraque also took a shot at Wayne Gretzky in the book, calling the former Phoenix Coyotes coach, "The worst coach I've ever played for."
Now, in fairness, Laraque only played for Ron Low, Kevin Lowe, Craig MacTavish, Michael Therrien, Guy Carbonneau, Bob Gainey and Jacques Martin during his NHL career; and by comparison, Gretzky wasn't a better coach than any of them, with the caveat that Lowe only coached a single season (but still made the playoffs).
He stepped down with a 143-161-24 record and four seasons without a playoff appearance. His tenure was marred by scandal and cronyism, and ultimately reinforced that immortal players make for very mortal coaches.
Problem is, Laraque might not be the right person to critique The Great One's coaching prowess. At least according to veteran NHL TV voice and current St. Louis Blues commentator Darren Pang, who was in Phoenix while Laraque and Gretzky were there. Let the Great Georges/Panger Twitter Debate commence!
Laraque waived his no-trade clause to leave Phoenix for the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2007, despite having another year on the free-agent deal he signed with Phoenix. When asked why by HockeyFights.com, Laraque said:
What was the main reason in why you decided to request a trade from Phoenix?
LARAQUE: Because I wanted to play in the playoffs, since its the best part of hockey. Our team was going nowhere and the stands were empty.
So, in summary: Laraque isn't wrong about Gretzky, Pang isn't wrong about Laraque, but Laraque is wrong about Pang using Twitter to defend his guy, because the dude asking for an on-the-downlow conversation to settle beefs probably shouldn't have, you know, called out Wayne Gretzky by name in a book.