Laraque going on ice and off air

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:55 AM ET

Georges Laraque doesn't see any surprises unfolding today when he and 700-plus other members of the NHLPA vote to ratify the tentative collective bargaining agreement.

The Edmonton Oilers tough guy anticipates the obvious - players will vote to accept the deal, end the impasse and get back to work. Not because they like the pact, but because there's no upside to prolonging a dispute that already cancelled the 2004-05 season.

"It's a given because everybody is sick of it," Laraque said. "I'm not saying the players will vote yes because they agree with it, I'm saying they'll vote yes because they're sick of the process.

"A lot of guys didn't expect this would happen. Everybody is tired of it and they don't want to hold out anymore. For that reason, it's going to pass.

"Don Cherry said it perfectly: When you get called on a bluff that's not working, you fold."

With players expected to rubber-stamp the CBA today before owners do likewise tomorrow, Laraque has made plans to pull the plug on his latest over-the-airwaves adventure - the highly rated relationship advice call-in show on Bounce 91.7 radio - as of Sept. 1.

Laraque won't be mixing fisticuffs with advice to lovelorn listeners during the upcoming season.

"When I retire, I'm definitely going to get into radio," Laraque said.

"If there are some people in Edmonton sick of hearing me on radio, they'll be even sicker then because I'll be on every single day."

For now, though, the focus is hockey.

"One year is a long time," he said.

"Last summer was hard because we were all working out for a season we knew wasn't going to start. This year, we're working out knowing we will play.

"That's a positive thing."

BACK WITH THE BULLDOGS: The Oilers yesterday made official their return to Hamilton, announcing a limited AHL affiliation with the Bulldogs.

After suspending operation of the Road Runners this spring after just one season in Edmonton, the Oilers will assign as many as seven prospects to Hamilton.

The Oilers are expected to announce a second AHL affiliation, this one with Des Moines, in the next day or two.


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