The Montreal Canadiens have parted ways with Georges Laraque, but the enforcer has vowed that this isn't the end of his career.
"All I could say is that even though the way that it ended, I will be back in the NHL and only time will tell if I could still do the job," Laraque said on Thursday afternoon. "Time will tell whether it was a good decision or not."
Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey said earlier in the day that the player's lack of productivity and the fact that he had been a distraction were the main reasons.
Gainey said he wouldn't go into detail as to how specifically Laraque had been a distraction.
Laraque took umbrage at the characterization a few hours later.
"I would like to know what that means because I've always been a popular player every team that I've played in," he said. "I've never been a negative person.
"I always have a smile on my face. Even when I’m when I’m not playing I ways never negative I’ve always done a lot in the community."
The Canadiens must pay Laraque his full salary for the rest of this season. Gainey said there were "limited discussions" to trade the 33-year-old, but no takers were found.
Laraque had a no-movement clause that prohibited him being put on waivers, the general manager added.
Laraque appeared in 28 of the Canadiens' 51 games this season, collecting one goal, two assists and 28 penalty minutes. He last played on Jan. 17 against the New York Rangers, when he saw 3:18 minutes of ice time.
The Montreal native is in the second year of a three-year, $4.5-million US contract.
Under NHL rules, his deal can be bought out after the season at a cost of two-thirds of its remaining value. The buyout is paid over twice the remaining length of the contract, reducing its impact on next season's salary cap.
Laraque had tipped off some in the media Thursday about the move. He told TSN the move was "classless," given that he's still coping with the earthquake in Haiti, where his parents are from and where he still has family.
He later stepped back from those remarks, saying he was very emotional when he first heard the news from Gainey.
On Wednesday, he announced on his personal website that he was partnering with the NHLPA and World Vision to raise money to put toward building a hospital in Haiti.
Gainey said he planned to make the move last week, but the events in Haiti necessitated a delay.
Laraque has played 667 NHL games starting in the 1997-98 season, scoring 52 goals and 98 assists, along with 1,098 penalty minutes. He's also played for Edmonton, Phoenix and Pittsburgh.
Laraque said while his time with the Canadiens didn't end as he'd hoped, the fans treated him well and he doesn't regret signing with the team.