Georges Laraque's Release Long Overdue For Montreal Canadiens

Felix SicardCorrespondent IJanuary 21, 2010

ATLANTA - DECEMBER 12:  Georges Laraque #17 of the Montreal Canadiens fights with Eric Boulton #36 of the Atlanta Thrashers at Philips Arena on December 12, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

2010 hasn't been a very good year so far for Georges Laraque.

With a lingering back injury, too many trips to the press box, and devastating news of the disaster in his family's native Haiti, it was tough to envision that things would get any worse for the Canadiens' tough guy.

That isn't the case.

Earlier today, RDS confirmed that Georges Laraque had been released from the club. Laraque is expected to be bought out at the end of season. Bob Gainey explained that the main reasons leading to the enforcer's release were that he was a distraction and that he was unproductive.

It's a move that is long overdue on the general manger's part.

Ever since Laraque was brought in to provide some toughness in 2007-08, he has done little to nothing to make the Montreal Canadiens a better hockey team.

Obviously, the fact that he sustained some injuries that kept him out of the lineup for extended periods of time did nothing to help, but even when he was healthy, Laraque never fought at the rate that was expected from him.

There are tough guys in the NHL such as Sean Avery or Chris Neil who have the ability to drop the gloves while playing a sound brand of hockey.

Georges Laraque is not that type of enforcer. While he never hurts the team when he is on the ice, he never did anything much to help either, besides giving the more important players time to catch their breath.

This article is in no way meant to blast Georges Laraque, as I actually liked the attitude he brought to the team and the toughness he could provide.

However, looking at Laraque's contributions from Bob Gainey's standpoint, it becomes clear that releasing him was the only way to go.

Even though the Canadiens will still be obligated to pay the remainder of Laraque's contract, they have at least created an opening for a player such as Gregory Stewart who can fight and contribute offensively.

Jacques Martin has made it clear that he doesn't think toughness is a key element to a winning hockey club. Laraque's release is Martin's mentality beginning to take its shape in Montreal.

Former coach Guy Carbonneau never seemed to know what to do with "BGL" either, and putting him on the power play seemed more like an act of desperation than strategy.

It is sad to see the Canadiens' dressing room lose a great guy with a great attitude, but in the end, Laraque did not in any way, shape, or form make the Montreal Canadiens a better hockey team, and that is why he was released.