Laraque: Gretzky worst coach

Georges Laraque speaks to the media in Brossard, Que., Jan. 21, 2010. (QMI Agency)

Georges Laraque speaks to the media in Brossard, Que., Jan. 21, 2010. (QMI Agency)

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:23 AM ET

EDMONTON - Georges Laraque concedes Wayne Gretzky was one of the greatest players to ever play the game of hockey, but the former NHL heavyweight believes the Great Oneís coaching abilities left something to be desired.

In his book, Georges Laraque: The Story of the NHLís Unlikeliest Tough Guy, the former Edmonton Oilers winger says Gretzky was the worst coach heís ever played for.

ďItís not that Iím analyzing his coaching ability, I was just analyzing all of the coaches Iíve had,Ē Laraque told Sun News. ďI just said that Wayne was a great guy and one of the greatest players that ever played, but for me, he was one of the worst coaches Iíve ever had and I explain why in the book.

ďI donít think itís a big deal, itís just some guys like some coaches better than others and maybe some guys thought he was a good coach, but for me he was the worst. I donít know why itís creating so much controversy. For me Iím a guy that always speaks the truth and thatís the way I felt about it.Ē

Laraque, 34, played for the better part of 13 years in the NHL, the majority of it with the Oilers. He played for Gretzky during a brief spell in Phoenix with the Coyotes before moving on to play with the Pittsburgh Penguins and eventually the Montreal Canadiens.

His book is being released nation-wide this week.

ďThe thing is, people are taking it personally, they say itís a personal attack,Ē Laraque said. ďItís just like me when I was a hockey player. Some people may not have liked me as a hockey player, but as a human being, as a person, it doesnít change the person that I am today.

ďI know I may have upset a lot of people, but I want to remind those people, that what I said is not a surprise to many people, a lot of people have said that. The media has said that and even the owners has said that, so itís not a surprise that I said that. Itís such a minimal portion of the book, that itís pretty sad that if the one thing that people want to remember is that, there are so many important thing that Iím talking about apart from the coaching I had throughout my career.Ē

Laraqueís career came to an abrupt end, when he was bought out by the Canadiens in 2010. Laraque retired shortly afterwards.

He has since dipped into the political world, joining the Green Party of Canada, going on to be named the partyís Male Deputy Leader.

Itís one of the many things Laraque talks about in his book. He is currently doing a book tour and will be in Edmonton on Thursday.

ďI talk about the struggles, and the life of a fighter and what itís like,Ē Laraque said. ďBut I talk about many things, I talk about politics, I talk about animal rights, about veganism, I talk about whatever is on my mind. Itís half hockey and half about other things. So people that donít like hockey will still love it and those that do like hockey theyíll understand the role more.Ē

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/SUNdvandiest


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