He's the new face of the Edmonton Oilers. Get to know this so called "protector," Georges Laraque.
Georges Laraque's first game as member of the Edmonton Oilers was against the Calgary Flames in "The Battle of Alberta."
In comparison, this game is like the Chicago White Sox-Chicago Cubs or the Boston Red Sox -New York Yankees, except that the heated rivalry between the two hockey teams has a playoff atmosphere and is physical every game.
Growing up in Montreal, Laraque wasn't the physical presence he is now. He wanted to play hockey like his favorite players, Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky.
How ironic is it that several years later, Laraque would be playing on the very same team as his former idol played for when he won his last Stanley Cup -- the Edmonton Oilers.
For the record, Laraque doesn't wear dreadlocks. He wears his hair in braids and he doesn't wear them to make a statement about his ethnicity. The tough guy who calls himself a "protector," wears the braids just to be a little different.
Even though the Oilers are down two games to none in the Stanley Cup finals against the Carolina Hurricanes so far, he feels the acquisition of Chris Pronger, Michael Peca and Dwayne Roloson, has, in his words, "Helped to give us that edge to have success."
(Roloson suffered an injury in the first game and is now out for the rest of the finals.)
Success and a Stanley Cup are what the good people of Edmonton are hoping and looking for. A Canadian team hasn't won the Stanley Cup since 1993 and the last time the Oilers won was in 1990.
Like the Green Bay Packers, the Oilers are also owned by some of the good citizens of the city they play in, and according to Laraque, "It would mean everything to the city of Edmonton if we won the Cup."
He and his teammates don't have to look far for inspiration from the Oilers of the 1980s. All they have to do is look behind them to coach Criag MacTavish and his assistants, Charlie Huddy and Craig Simpson, all three of them former Oilers.
The team even gets occasional "pep talks" from former Oilers' greats, such as Paul Coffey, Grant Fuhr and Laraque's boyhood idol, the "Great One" himself.
Laraque, for his part, is more than ready to bring another championship to the "City of Champions." He's even thinking ahead to what he's going to do on his "day" with the Stanley Cup. He's going home to Montreal and "Throw a party and invite all my friends."