New Coyotes right wing Georges Laraque has a well-established reputation as an enforcer and one of the toughest guys in the NHL.
During his eight-year career, he has compiled 826 penalty minutes and has been involved in 97 regular season fights.
Off the ice, though, Laraque displays a much softer side. The 29-year-old Montreal native was heavily involved in charity work while playing in Edmonton and received the Oilers’ community service award three consecutive seasons, from 2001-02 to 2003-04.
Laraque said Thursday during a press conference at Glendale Arena to introduce the Coyotes’ four new players — Jeremy Roenick, Ed Jovanvoski and Nick Boynton are the others — that he plans to be just as involved in the Phoenix community.
“I just hope, just like in Edmonton, I can help the team, not just be more recognized, but be able to help the community charity-wise,” he said. “I love that, helping kids, hospital visits. I try to make a difference in people's lives.”
While the four newest Coyotes all bring a physical presence and a high-skill level which is sure to help the team, just as important is their postseason experience.
All four have been to the playoffs in at least three of the last five seasons and Roenick (Chicago in 1992), Jovanvoski (Florida in 1996) and Laraque (Edmonton in 2006) each have played in a Stanley Cup final.
“I think it’s invaluable, the experience they bring,” said coach Wayne Gretzky, who has been to six finals and hoisted the Cup four times himself.
Phoenix’s roster now includes five players who have advanced to the finals. Mike Ricci (1996) and Steven Reinprecht (2001) each got there with Colorado.
JR ON NEW LOOK
Much has changed on the Coyotes since Roenick last played for them in 2000-01. Only three players remain from that team and the club has switched uniforms and buildings. When asked to compare the franchise then and now, Roenick said he prefers the newer version.
“It’s a lot different than when I was here five years ago,” he said. “I’d say the shirts are much more appealing. The arena here is spectacular. I truly believe, having played in all the arenas, that this is the best one around. I think what’s more important is what they’re doing here. We’re going to make it a better building with what goes on inside.”
Up-and-coming defenseman Matt Jones, who wore No. 55 last season, will now wear No. 5 since Jovanvoski has taken over his old number. Meanwhile, Roenick will again don his familiar No. 97 while Boynton and Laraque will sport No. 44 and No. 37, respectively.