Georges Laraque

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Lightning close facilities after multiple players test positive for COVID-19


Tampa Bay Lightning players and staff members tested positive for COVID-19, prompting the team to temporarily close facilities to Phase 2 training, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie.

McKenzie believes that three Lightning players and two staff members tested positive. McKenzie notes that facilities could re-open if remaining staffers and players don’t test positive.

Now, if more Lightning players or staff members test positive? Then we’ll need to wait and see.

As of this writing, the Lightning have not released a statement on the matter. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman backs up McKenzie’s report, though.

Florida ranks as one of the states hit hardest by COVID-19. It ranks among the states that have seen record spikes in positive cases lately. There are concerns that Florida could become the next epicenter for the spread of disease.

Consider this COVID-19 map from the CDC:

Lightning test positive COVID-19 Florida outbreaks CDC map
via the Center for Disease Control

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently said that the state will not shut down despite these spikes.

“No, we’re not shutting down, you know, we’re going to go forward,” DeSantis said Tuesday. “You have to have society function.”

The Lightning aren’t the only sports team training in Florida to get hit by a COVID-19 outbreak, either. As Hardball Talk’s Craig Calcaterra notes, five Philadelphia Phillies players and three staffers who were training in the Clearwater area tested positive for COVID-19.

Lightning release statement on players, staff testing positive for COVID-19

Again, McKenzie reports that the Lightning could reopen facilities for Phase 2 if others don’t test positive for COVID-19. Here’s hoping that at least the Lightning and NHL’s decision makers err on the side of caution, even if others seem more willing to roll the dice.

Later on Friday, the Lightning released a statement regarding players testing positive for COVID-19. The team confirmed that three players tested positive, but did not name specific ones. The Lightning didn’t clarify how many staff members tested positive.

Lightning GM Julien BriseBois announced that those players self-isolated and are “asymptomatic other than a few cases of low-grade fever.” (Somewhat strange, since there aren’t that many cases?)

Anyway, here’s the full statement:

Follow this NBC News live update thread for more on the coronavirus pandemic.


Penguins player tested positive, now recovered
Multiple Avalanche players tested positive
Senators also dealt with outbreaks
Former NHL player Georges Laraque dealt with COVID-19

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Former NHL enforcer Laraque talks coronavirus fight


A couple of weeks ago, former Montreal Canadiens tough guy Georges Laraque was running five or six days a week as he trained for a marathon.

Now, the former NHL enforcer’s biggest challenge is trying to breathe clearly as he fights COVID-19 from a hospital in Montreal.

”Now I can’t even get up without losing my breath. It’s insane,” he said.

In a series of videos from his hospital bed, the 43-year-old said he began feeling symptoms a week ago Sunday when he was helping to deliver groceries to vulnerable people in his community.

Over the next days, his condition deteriorated.

”I have pneumonia in both my lungs, they’re affected by the COVID because I have asthma, I have to have oxygen blowing through my nose,” said Laraque, who wore a hospital gown and could be seen coughing at times during the videos.

”The nights are the worst,” he said. ”At night, I have fevers a couple times a night. I have to get up and take pills.”

Laraque thanked the staff at Charles-Le Moyne hospital who have been taking care of him, and told people not to feel sorry for him because, ”I’m not the only one fighting this.”

Laraque played parts of 12 seasons in the NHL from 1997 to 2010, including eight with Edmonton. He capped his career with two seasons in Montreal.

Former NHL enforcer Georges Laraque tests positive for COVID-19


Former NHL enforcer Georges Laraque has tested positive for COVID-19.

The 43-year-old Laraque made the announcement on social media Thursday in a post showing him in a hospital gown.

“I guess I’m not invincible, just got diagnosed with Covid, since I’m asthmatic, not the best news, will fight it off!” Laraque said.

Laraque played 12 seasons in the NHL, including eight with the Edmonton Oilers and two with the Montreal Canadiens. He also suited up for the Phoenix Coyotes and Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Montreal native was selected by Edmonton 31st overall in the 1995 draft and made his NHL debut with the Oilers in 1997-98. Following stints with the Coyotes and Penguins, he retired with the Canadiens following the 2009-10 season.

He had 53 goals, 100 assists and 1,126 penalty minutes in 695 regular-season games.

Laraque has written an autobiography, done public speaking and devoted much of his time to charity work since retiring.

He was recently assisting with a campaign called “Give Protection” in Laval, Quebec, in an effort to get more Personal Protective Equipment to front-line staff, posting a video of himself April 1 outside a hospital.

Borje Salming tweeted a video through the Hockey Hall of Fame saying that he fees better after being hospitalized in March with a suspected case of COVID-19.

CHLPA spokesman may be a convicted con-man


The attempt to create the Canadian Hockey League Players Association has been derided by some for its ham-handed efforts in getting off the ground. Others praise it for trying to stand up for the youngsters playing there.

One thing that won’t help their cause is the possibility that one of their spokesmen has been convicted of fraud.

Joe Warmington of QMI Media reports CHLPA spokesman Derek Clarke is being investigated by Canadian hockey officials to figure out who exactly he is. TSN’s Dave Naylor reports (video) he’s spoken to two different people who have identified themselves as Clarke.

The man some believe him to be is former hockey coach and two-time fraud convict Randy Gumbley. Even CHLPA Executive Director Georges Laraque may not know who he is.

In an interview with TVA Sports reporter Stephane Gonzalez yesterday, Laraque in an on-camera interview identified a photograph of Gumbley as Derek Clarke. Then, in a subsequent interview denied the two were the same man.

That’s a bit embarrassing and, worse for the CHLPA, damning to their cause if it turns out a noted huckster like Gumbley is pulling the wool over their eyes.

To help add to the surreal nature of all this, the CHLPA says Clarke will be making an appearance on TSN today to show who he is. Here’s to hoping he doesn’t show up looking like this:


Georges Laraque’s new job: fight for the CHLPA

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Georges Laraque’s made quite a bit of news and held a wide array of jobs since leaving the NHL, but now he embarks on a new fight as the executive director of the CHL’s players association.

He said it himself on Twitter:


Daniel Girard provides some context for the situation.

The 35-year-old native of Montreal, who was named deputy leader of the Green Party of Canada two years ago, is poised to become the face of a de facto union to protect the interests of more than 1,300 junior hockey players in the OHL, WHL and QMJHL.

A spokesperson for the association, which is yet to be certified, said earlier this week its priority is improving the educational packages available to junior hockey players, who get a $50-a-week stipend plus room and board.

Perhaps this means his NHL “comeback” is on hold?