SUN Hockey Pool

By Georges, he's a GM!

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:51 AM ET

He's been a fighter, a scorer (relatively speaking ... remember the 13-goal season?), a joker, a crowd favourite, a celebrity spokesman and even a disc jockey.

But Georges Laraque has never tested his abilities in management.

Until now.

You can call him head coach and general manager Georges Laraque this weekend as the Oilers winger leads his club, on and off the ice, into the inaugural Pro-Skate Cup, a four-on-four hockey tournament featuring a handful of local pros and some of the city's best rec-league players.

And some guys who are only out there for the beer.

"He's a lunatic when it comes to being competitive, so he has a pretty stacked team," said Pro-Skate's Patrick Francey, the tournament organizer."

Divisions 2 and 3 are mostly to have fun and to raise some money for charity, but there's a couple of Division 1 teams that are talking among themselves that they want to be a little more serious... that's up to them.'

It doesn't sound like GM Georges is in this to lose. His team originally consisted of his buddies (translation: some pretty mediocre players) but he shifted into Glen Sather mode after catching wind of the competition.

"I had to," laughed Laraque. "At first they told me don't make your team too good, we don't want any blowouts, and I said OK.

"But then I started talking to people from other teams and there are some really good players.

FORGET THIS

"So I said forget this, I called up Jason Chimera, Cory Cross and Sean Brown. I've also got Brent Middleton from the Bears, Shawn Belle from the World Juniors and Johnny Boychuk, Colorado's second-round pick in 2002. Not bad for a summer league team."

He picked up most of the GM skills necessary for assembling this team from Slats.

"Intimidation was the main thing," joked Laraque, whose first game is 10:30 Friday night at Parkland Arena.

"I pretty much forced every guy on my team to play. You have no idea how hard it is to get those guys. That's all I've been doing all summer long."

Of course, hearing that Laraque went New York Yankee has triggered an arms race in the eight-team first division.

"When other teams heard about it, they started getting fired up," chuckled Francey. "I told Grant Fuhr what Georges was doing and he said, 'OK, I'll make some calls of my own and see what I can do.' "

And you can bet Fuhr's connections run deep.

"He won't tell me who's on his team," said Laraque.

"But I'm hearing he's getting guys from all over the NHL. There's a rumour Joel Otto is on the team. He's cheating. Those retired guys are good."

Each team will consist of 13 players (three lines of four and a goalie) who paid $100 a head to take part. Most of the talent comes from Edmonton's rec leagues.

"There's a team called the Fat Heads, who've won Division 1 in Edmonton two or three years in a row. They're really hot," said Francey.

"They're college guys, university guys, some guys who had a sniff in the show, that quality of player. They're a very, very good team. I think that's the one team that Georges is concerned about."

PELLETIER'S IN

Pro-Skate's marquee player is Olympic gold-medallist David Pelletier, who's, not surprisingly, a pretty smooth skater.

"He is an amazing player," said Francey. "He's an amazing athlete to begin with, but he's an outstanding skater.

"He was on CISN's team, but we're working on a trade for him because of Georges' team."

It's all for charity, with proceeds going to Dave Hunter's Kids Go Free, which provides sports and recreation opportunities for children who otherwise couldn't afford it, and to Olympic gold medalist Lori-Ann Muenzer's training fund.


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