'I'm happy here': Canadiens' Laraque
Georges Laraque questioned his future with the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday, but reporters found the veteran enforcer singing a slightly different tune on Thursday.
"I never asked for a trade or anything," Laraque said. "I'm happy here.
"I want to play my three years here. I have a no-trade clause and I'm not waiving anything.
"I love it here. I love the fans and my teammates.
"I get along with everybody and all the media, except two [unnamed] persons. But other than that, I love it here."
Laraque, a Montreal native, has played sparingly for the Canadiens this season, largely due to problems with his lower back and groin, and partly because his role as an enforcer is a limited one.
Being listed as a healthy scratch in each of the past two games prompted the journeyman forward to publicly express his frustration and wonder if he will be headed elsewhere prior to next Wednesday's NHL trade deadline.
"I could have lied," Laraque told reporters Thursday. "But I'm a straight shooter [and] I want to say how I feel.
"I said I was disappointed that I don't play every game and I believed when I came here that my role would be bigger. I'm just confused about my role on this team and that's all."
"I don't like it," Canadiens head coach Guy Carbonneau said of the situation. "It is not good for the team or his teammates.
"I don't want anybody to be happy when they're not playing, but that should stay internal.
"I have always said my door is always open. When we had a discussion in the summer, I never, ever, ever made promises to anybody.
"We're trying to get out of the hole we have been in for a few weeks. The atmosphere was better, so it is not the best timing."
'Winning solves a lot of problems'
The Canadiens have won back-to-back games for the first time in more than a month, ending a prolonged slump in which they won just three of their previous 15 games.
Mindful of the team's fragile state, captain Saku Koivu felt Laraque, however honest, picked a bad time to vent.
"Whatever controversy you have, on or off the ice, winning solves a lot of problems," Koivu said. "If there is a conflict or something going on, I would rather that it was done behind closed doors and try to solve it that way.
"In Georges's case, I understand his frustration [because] he wants to play and he wants to help the team. But instead of going to the media, maybe he should have sat down one-on-one with the coach."
Laraque has posted just two assists and 47 penalty minutes in 25 games with the Canadiens, who signed him to a three-year, $4.5-million US contract on July 3.
He has totalled 52 goals and 98 assists for 150 points with 1,084 penalty minutes in 659 games over 11 NHL seasons with the Edmonton Oilers, Phoenix Coyotes, Pittsburgh Penguins and Canadiens.
With files from the Canadian Press