Laraque beat down Myhres

SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:29 AM ET

Georges Laraque sent a message.

Not one that pointed out he is among the very best enforcers in the NHL.

That wouldn't be neccessary, since his reputation is firmly in place.

What Laraque did do was put the vibe out there in noteworthy fashion that he was ticked off, to put it mildly.

When Laraque caught wind that Calgary Flames hopeful Brantt Myhres was determined to go after him and force a first-period showdown Friday night at the Saddledome, the Oilers tough guy felt obliged to give Myhres a shot at dethroning him as the Battle of Alberta's heavyweight champ.

"It made me mad that he would go to the media and tell them he was going to go after somebody. There are unwritten rules and he didn't show any respect," said Laraque.

Laraque got his revenge in a one-sided beatdown. Four left hands dented Myhres's mug, leaving him with stitches above his eye, and reportedly a fractured orbital bone.

Myhres, a three-time victim of the NHL's substance abuse policy, had come to the Flames camp searching for a contract in a last-ditch attempt to show he'd cleaned up his life after years of alcohol abuse.

"He took care of business," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish of Laraque. "A punch like that goes around the league in a hurry. News like that travels fast.

INTIMIDATION

"A big part of Georges' game is that intimidation that he has, and certainly something like that will enhance that level of intimidation."

Big Georges was happy with his clear-cut decision in the bout, but was still questioning why Myhres - someone who he knows through off-season training in Edmonton - would come out and make such an open challenge.

"I was surprised and I said OK, I would fight him, but it made me angry,"said Laraque. "Usually when I fight, my heart rate doesn't even go over 100. Going into the fight made it easier, but you shouldn't have to go into a fight pissed off.

"It's something that should just happen. When you are pissed off, fighting is totally different. I don't think you should have to be pissed off to fight somebody."

Laraque, though, has drawn criticism in the past for choosing to be a reactionary enforcer instead of one who would go out and create havoc at the get-go.

It's something the Oilers have hammered home to him again in this pre-season, and he seems to have found a happy medium between designated fist-thrower and contributing role player.

PHYSICAL FACTOR

"We have talked at length with him in the past about being a physical factor, without just squaring off against the other team's tough guy and getting into a situation where teams are reacting from what he's doing in terms of who he's hitting and how he's hitting,"explained MacTavish.

"That's a role that we've very much seen an improvement in so far in him."

Not that dropping the gloves and wailing away will ever be far from the top of Laraque's list of to-do's when he hits the ice.

He's even started passing along some tricks of the trade to those in the running to ride shotgun for him.

"He's been one of several guys that has taken me under his wing," said big Zack Stortini.

"He's taken some time to show me a few things, and I treasure that information. Georges is definitely one of the best in the game at what he does, and anything I can learn from him will help my game.

"Anything a guy like that can give me, I value it and I'm going to use it to the best of my abilities. I don't want to go out there just to fight but it's definitely part of my game. I'm learning from one of the best and I'm taking full advantage of it."

OIL DROPS: The Oilers went through a brisk skate at the AgriCom yesterday and will have today to rest up for a home-and-home exhibition series with the Flames Tuesday and Wednesday. Steve Staios and Ty Conklin both skipped the workout to get treatment for groin injuries ... MacTavish suggested that the Oilers may not make any further cuts to the roster until those two games are done.


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