In the 2006-07 NHL season, Edmonton Oilers coach Craig Mactavish had been noticing that too many of his superstars were getting pushed around on the ice. This urged him to bring up a player by the name of Zach Stortini. He was near the top of the list for most penalty minutes in the AHL, and his face showed why.
Over the past two years, this man has truly made little difference to helping players like Ales Hemsky getting hit hard. He can't hit, he can't skate, he can't score, and, most importantly, he can't fight.
With the absence of a grit player, drastic things have happened. A good example is showing Ethan Moreau having to try and take on a fight for himself. This caused him to dislocate a shoulder and remain out of the Oilers lineup for almost a year.
On July 1, one unrestricted free agent will become available that I'm sure Kevin Lowe will have his eyes on. He goes by the name of Georges Laraque. The Penguins enforcer would be a perfect fit on a line with guys like Brodziak and, hopefully, Curtis Glencross, if he remains in Edmonton
Fans living in Edmonton know how much he means to our team. We know how much he wants to come back, as he was on the radio here all the time. The truth is that Georges Laraque has not even sold his home in Edmonton since he left for Phoenix.
With Laraque back in the Oilers lineup, I think the players, coaches, and fans will feel a whole lot better. I will be shocked if it doesn't happen. There will be no thought of opposing enforcers laying even a finger on players like Hemsky, Shawn Horcoff, or Sam Gagner.