Getting to Know Georges Laraque of the Edmonton Oilers

By Jo Ann Lawery
Updated: June 8, 2006

LOS ANGELES — He began skating in his hometown of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, at age four.

Like most Canadian kids, he loved and played hockey, and his idols growing up were hockey players, Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzsky, who at that time played for the team that Georges plays for now, the Edmonton Oilers.

Laraque not only played hockey, but football and soccer.

His father was a soccer coach in Canada.

At age 16, he decided to forget about football and soccer and concentrate on hockey.

Unlike most players who grow the infamous beards during the playoffs, he doesn’t.

But let’s get it straight.

He doesn’t wear dreadlocks.

His hair is in braids, which allows him to do lots of different things with his hair.

He doesn’t wear the braids for shock value.

“It was just for something different, ” he said in a recent interview for

Laraque is known as one of the toughest fighters in the NHL, but that’s not how he sees himself.

When asked if he considers himself as “Team security”, Georges’ reply is, “No, I’m a protector.”

He is one of the few blacks in hockey and feels the league has done a good job in promoting minorities, but says, realisticaly, “they could always do more.”

Hockey is a way of life in Canada, and not to be sacreligious, but it is like a religion in Canada, no matter who you are.

Laraque is no different in his passion for hockey.

When asked what it would mean to not only himself, the city of Edmonton, and to the country of Canada if the Edmonton Oilers were to be the first Canadian team since 1993 to win the Stanley Cup, Laraque stated without hesitation, “it would mean everything.”