Tough call for Laraque

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:02 AM ET

For Georges Laraque it was a tough decision.

One of the toughest he's had to make as a professional hockey player.

Essentially it was between two places he calls home. Between a team he grew up idolizing and one he grew to love.

In the end, the Montreal Canadiens prevailed.

"When I was a kid, I remember they were winning all the Stanley Cups and every kid on the street had a Habs jersey," Laraque said.

"And what I remember the most was the Rocket Richard book that we used to read at school.

"It's still surreal. I live here in Edmonton and I haven't lived in Montreal in a long time and I haven't really gone back there in the summer.

"I think it's going to hit home when I get there, when training camp starts and I get to wear the jersey for the first time. I don't think it's totally sunk in yet."

Laraque, 31, a Montreal native, was originally drafted in the second round (31st overall) by the Edmonton Oilers in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft. He spent nine years with the organization before moving on to play with the Phoenix Coyotes and Pittsburgh Penguins.

This off-season Laraque signed a three-year deal with the Canadiens. The Oilers had made him a similar offer to return.

"It would have been awesome to be back," he said. "The fact that I live here, it would have been much easier to play here. But it was a hard decision to make. It was really tough.

"My dad lives in Edmonton, my mom lives in Montreal. My mom was begging me to come back home.

"I love it here, if it wasn't for the fact that my mom was there, I would have stayed here."

It's been nearly a decade since Laraque has lived in Montreal. Despite not playing with the Oilers anymore he still makes his off-season home in Edmonton. He's currently taking part in Perry Pearn's three-on-three camp at the K of C Twin Arena.

"Living in Montreal for a full year is something that I haven't done for a while," he said.

"I'm still familiar with the city and all my family and my cousins are still there so it will be fun."


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