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Former enforcer Georges Laraque sounds off on Rangers handling of Derek Boogaard

May 16, 2011, 8:07 PM EST

George Laraque AP

When you’re born to be an enforcer in the NHL, it’s a role you carry out even after you’re out of the game. Former NHL enforcer Georges Laraque is fulfilling the role of enforcer once again today as he stood up for his fallen friend Derek Boogaard. Boogaard’s untimely passing on Friday has led to numerous outpourings of emotion and Laraque is taking a stand of a different kind for his friend.

Laraque today alleged that Boogaard’s team, the New York Rangers, handled him poorly and lobbed heavy accusations towards the team and coach John Tortorella regarding Boogaard’s ability to contribute with the team.

Etienne Laberge of Sun Media has the story from an upset Laraque.

“He was cleared to play at the end of the season and the team just told him to take the rest of the year off,” Laraque told NHL HOME ICE on SiriusXM Radio. “You know how much pressure that puts on a guy? He was ready to play with the contract he had and the team says, ‘It’s OK, just take the rest of the year off.’ On top of that, he told me his coach was not a big fan of him.

“I don’t want to insinuate anything that happened and the cause (of his death) or whatever but I would have been frustrated if I was in that situation. The fact he was inactive so long and those two incidents happened, it clearly didn’t help him.”

That’s a hefty accusation towards the Rangers who signed Boogaard to a four-year, $6.6 million contract before last season. If Boogaard was indeed healthy and eligible to return, the Rangers telling him to stay home makes the signing all the more questionable. As for why the Rangers may have sent him home, Laraque says that Tortorella did not think much of Boogaard as a contributor on the team.

“He told me John didn’t really like him as a player,” Laraque said. “I don’t know what John thought or what he said.

“All I know is that Derek told me he was cleared to play, to come back, that he wanted to play and the team told him to take the rest of the year off, to get ready for next year. He didn’t tell me who told him that, he just told me the team said that.”

If that’s the case it’s highly unfortunate and while we won’t know what caused Boogaard to pass away at the age of 28 for another couple weeks at most, these sorts of accusations aren’t likely to be met well by the Rangers.

Everyone is hurting here. Laraque is hurting because he lost a dear friend and the Rangers are hurting because Boogaard was a valued member of the organization off the ice at the very least. Sometimes when things like this happen and people are in pain, the accusations start going around during the grieving process.

The other side of this is just how useful is an enforcer when a team is desperate to make the playoffs? That’s the position the Rangers were in towards the end of the season and despite Boogaard having scored a goal this year, his role was very simple and one that didn’t demand many minutes on the ice. With how tight ice time was for the Rangers at the end of the year, it’s possible that Boogaard wouldn’t see the ice even without an injury anyhow.

Still, it’s a sad time for all those involved and this kind of drama is tough for all to take. Let’s hope that there’s nothing to be had here and it’s just the tough words of a heartbroken friend and colleague sounding off in frustration.

  1. stakex - May 16, 2011 at 9:32 PM

    Everything seems so much worse after someone dies. If I could be politically incorrect for a minute:

    The truth is Boogaard was virtually useless to the Ragners when they were fighting for a playoff spot. In fact, the Rangers were carrying a couple extra forwards at that time to begin with… and Torts certainly wasn’t going to waste ice time on an enforcer at that point, when he couldn’t even get some of his more productive forwards icetime.

    And Boogaards signing WAS questionable. Lets not forget the NHL Network analyst covering all the signing last summer said it was probably the worst, more over paid signing of the year. $6.6mil for a forward who never scores? It was a joke then, and its still a joke now.

    Its horrible what happened to Boogaard. Its a crying shame, and a terrible loss for his family. However the fact that he died does not magicly change how bad his signing was, or the fact he was not productive enough to be in the Rangers lineup at the end of the year. I’m sure that might have been upsetting to him, but thats the deal when your an enforcer who never scores. If your team needs goals, your not going to be playing.

    • bcjim - May 16, 2011 at 9:37 PM

      The Rangers have productive forwards? Name them.

      Also..please, please someone get rid of the talking ads here, they are really aggravating.

      • stakex - May 17, 2011 at 1:37 PM

        I didn’t say they had productive forwards (They do btw, Gaborik/Callahan/Dubinsky)…. I said “MORE productive”. Avery for example was sitting out quite a bit at the end of the season, and while he was not scoring many goals this year he still managed a few assists and was producing a lot more then Boogaard.

  2. stixzidinia - May 17, 2011 at 10:54 AM

    Stakex is right about one thing, guys like Boogaard are useless to a team trying to make a run at a playoff spot. That’s why guys like Tony Twist always sat in these situations. If you can’t play a regular shift and contribute as a well rounded hockey player, like Marty McSorley used to, then you’re of no use to your team when they need wins.

    A tragedy what happened to him, but he should’ve known his role as it relates to this. Tony Twist always knew the score.

  3. psousa1 - May 17, 2011 at 11:41 AM

    There is a place in the post season for them. Boogard could still, within the rules, knock you through the boards with a good clean check. Look at Boston, they have Shawn Thornton and Greg Campbell on their 4th line and they are there to stick up for their teammates but there have been stretches in post season games in which they were the most effective line. Look at Philly – Dan Carcillo didn’t get enough ice time against Boston and Philly was a lifeless team. Some of these guys change the dynamic with their energy. Drilling guys and creating turnovers. Not saying Boogard was as good as either of them but there is a place.

    • stakex - May 17, 2011 at 1:41 PM

      There is a place for them at times, and in some circumstance sure.

      However, the Rangers were having serious trouble scoring and couldn’t afford to add a guy to the lineup who scored one goal in his last 250 games when they had guys like Avery and Zuccarella(spelling?) sitting out as well. Both of them have a much higher chance of scoring goals then did Boogaard.

      Now, if the Rangers weren’t so offensivly challanged and were scoring goals just fine… then yes, I could have seen putting Boogaard in the lineup. But with them unable to score? Not a chance.

    • icyirish - May 17, 2011 at 3:44 PM

      I agree, problem is torts and his small man issues. Guys like terry oreily or bobby nystrom would never have been givin a chance.I could name at least 30 more guys in same catagory

  4. datsyukian - May 17, 2011 at 2:30 PM

    Joe,

    What are you trying to say Laraque is trying to say? You’re the writer; don’t make us read between the lines! Is Laraque’s point that Boogard was possibly depressed & it’s a possibility that cause of death could turn out to be suicide via a bunch of pills or something? This article is confusing the way it pussyfoots. Just say what you’re trying to say, geezus! RIP, Boogey.

    • Joe Yerdon - May 17, 2011 at 2:36 PM

      Fair question to ask here. Some of what Laraque may be hinting at are assumptions I’m not comfortable in making. It clearly looks to me that Laraque is looking for reasons why Boogaard died and he seems to suspect that his lack of play had some kind of adverse effect on him. There’s talk from Larry Brooks of the New York Post that Boogaard was in the NHL substance and behavioral treatment program last season. If you piece all these things together, it paints a dark picture of what may have been going on but I’m not going to make that leap and start making guesses. We’ll get the answers here soon enough.

      • datsyukian - May 17, 2011 at 3:02 PM

        Joe,

        Thanks for the response & sorry about my pissy tone.

        Fair enough. Thanks for elaborating. Yikes.

  5. hockeyjockey - May 19, 2011 at 12:24 AM

    Thank you for your insights.. waiting is the hardest thing.. there is no good outcome for this as
    Derek was way way too young.. but I do hope so much that we do not find out .. I will not write it here..but you all know what it is..

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