Canada's Green Party names pugilist-turned-politician Georges Laraque their deputy leader

laraquethepolitico.jpgIt might be hard to believe, but one of the league’s best fighters in ages retired to a life that some might describe as cuddly. Some might even call him a “tree hugger.”

Georges Laraque retired from hockey after being bought out by the Montreal Canadiens and the politically active pugilist was just named the deputy leader of the Green Party of Canada.

Elizabeth May has named former Montreal Canadiens enforcer Georges Laraque as the Green Party’s deputy leader, in an apparent move to boost the party’s political presence in Quebec.

Laraque, 33, replaces Jacques Rivard, who left the Greens for the Bloc Quebecois last month.

Laraque is known for being politically active. He became a vegan in 2009 to protest the treatment of animals in the food industry, and explained his decision in a lengthy post on his website, GeorgesLaraque.com.

“I love animals, and I don’t believe humans can treat them as commodities and cause them harm,” he wrote.

Laraque is an example of an enforcer whose off-ice demeanor breaks character. Fighters and bruisers can be some of the kindest, gentlest hockey players around even if they beat the bejesus out of each other for a living. It’s refreshing and kind of amusing to read Laraque give the kind of quotes you’d normally read from a teenage celebrity who weighs 80 lbs. (not 260 lbs. like Laraque).

Congratulations to Laraque. Might he follow fellow former-Canadien Ken Dryden and pursue a high-profile politician in Canada? We’ll have to see about that one.

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    Flyers staff give Gudas a talking to as questionable hits pile up

    Toronto Maple Leafs v Philadelphia Flyers
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    The list of questionable Radko Gudas hits — some of which he’s been suspended for and others he has escaped discipline — has grown again, prompting Philadelphia Flyers coach Dave Hakstol to apparently have a chat with the 25-year-old defenseman.

    There was no hearing for Gudas from his latest infraction, a major penalty for charging called against him for a hit on Buffalo Sabres rookie Daniel Catenacci on Thursday.

    Catenacci has since been put on injured reserve, after he went through concussion protocol, as per John Vogl of the Buffalo News.

    The NHL didn’t hand out supplemental discipline in this case, but the Flyers brass held a meeting of their own with Gudas, because hits like this could end costing Philadelphia results and precious points in the Eastern Conference standings.

    The Flyers are four points out of a playoff spot.

    “There’s a big picture to all of it in terms of our main concern,” Hakstol told CSN Philadelphia. “Our main goal right now is to do all the little things necessary to win hockey games.

    “In keeping with that, how individually does everybody do their part to help us win games. That’s the basis of my conversation with Radko.”

    In December, Gudas was suspended three games for a head shot on Mika Zibanejad. Earlier this month, he was given a major penalty and game misconduct for clipping in a game against the Habs, but escaped discipline for that, as well.

    Gudas, who didn’t want to comment on the hit on Catenacci, also spoke with Flyers GM Ron Hextall about this latest incident.

    Asked about that conversation, Gudas told reporters, “Just making sure I pay attention and not get suspended again and make a good hockey play or make a good hit.”

    After 11-game absence, Savard (oblique) back for Columbus

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    These are pretty decent times for the Blue Jackets.

    The team is 7-3-2 in its last 12, recently re-upped with Ryan Murray on a two-year deal and, on Friday, announced that blueliner David Savard has been activated from IR after missing the last 11 games to an oblique strain.

    Savard, 25, was a pretty integral part of John Tortorella’s defense when healthy. He averaged over 24 minutes per night and had 15 points through 39 games prior to being sidelined by the ailment.

    He’ll presumably draw back into the lineup when the Jackets take on Ottawa on Saturday. No word yet on a corresponding roster move.

    Who’s got the best/worst combined special teams?

    The Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin, (8), of Russia, leaps in the air in celebration after scoring his 500th career NHL goal during the second period of a hockey game against the Ottawa Senators in Washington, D.C., Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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    Recently, the Washington Capitals went five whole games without scoring a power-play goal.

    It was a real nightmare for those guys.

    Despite the fact Washington went 3-1-1 over those five games, one headline called it a “troubling power-play drought” — which tells you how few “troubling” things the Caps have had to deal with this season.

    Overall, special teams have been a boon for Washington, which ranks first on the power play and fifth on the penalty kill.

    Compare that to, say, Calgary, which ranks 29th and 29th, respectively. Now that’s troubling.

    Anyway, here’s how all 30 teams rank when their special teams are combined:

    Rankings

    Not surprisingly, there’s a strong correlation between good special teams and winning hockey games.

    In the left column, 12 of the 15 teams are currently in a playoff spot. New Jersey, Buffalo, and Montreal are the exceptions.

    On the right, only four teams — Colorado, Detroit, Nashville and the Rangers — are in a playoff spot.

    John Scott to return to Habs’ AHL team this weekend

    Pacific Division forward John Scott (28) is lifted up by teammates Mark Giordano (5), of the Calgary Flames, Joe Pavelski (8), and Brent Burns (88), of the San Jose Sharks after they defeated the Atlantic Division team 1-0 at an NHL hockey All-Star championship game, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. The Pacific Division won 1-0. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
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    John Scott’s had enough time off following his All-Star Game MVP award.

    Now, he wants to get back to work.

    Scott, who made major headlines at the end of January thanks to his unforgettable All-Star performance in Nashville, will return to Montreal’s AHL affiliate in St. John’s this weekend, as the IceCaps play a pair of games against the Toronto Marlies.

    “It’ll be nice to [be] back playing hockey and doing my thing. I’m actually really excited for it,” Scott said, per ESPN. “This has been the longest break I’ve had, ever. But I play like 7-8 minutes, I won’t be too out of shape, I’ll be able to keep up.”

    Scott, 33, hasn’t played since his Pacific Division team won the annual ASG 3-on-3 tournament on Jan. 31. Following that whirlwind weekend, the Montreal organization allowed him to take a leave to be with his wife, Danielle, who gave birth to twin girls on Feb. 5.

    Scott only appeared in four games for St. John’s prior to the All-Star Game, going pointless with six penalty minutes and a minus-1 rating.

    Related:

    The John Scott story, coming to a theater near you?

    Therrien on Habs recalling Scott: ‘You never know’