The bad news is that former NHL player Georges Laraque contracted COVID-19; but, the good news is that he returned home three days ago after spending the weekend in the hospital where he recovered from his illness. Yesterday, he tweeted his diagnosis and his recovery to the world.
Laraque, who’s now 43-years-old and looking as tough as ever except for the tubes stuck in his face, played 13 seasons in the NHL and spent eight of those seasons with the Oilers (1997-2006). He moved to the Phoenix Coyotes for most of a season in 2006-07, then to the Pittsburgh Penguins (2006-08), finishing off his career with his hometown Montreal Canadiens (finishing his career in 2010).
Laraque’s Asthma Made Him At-Risk
Because Laraque has asthma, having a COVID-19 attack could have been life-threatening because it might have triggered another asthma attack or even have caused pneumonia or other acute respiratory issues. And, although it wasn’t an easy battle for the former NHL pugilist, he beat the illness down to the ice like he has so many other things in his NHL career.
In an interview with TSN earlier this week, Laraque discussed his hospital stay: “I was really struggling but just the fact that since yesterday I didn’t need extra oxygen to breathe it was really encouraging because you know, gasping for air is one of the worst feelings when you can’t breathe.”
Laraque admitted that he was “in a room with three people, all infected, sitting there not knowing what’s going to happen. And just plugged to oxygen and waiting for my lungs to get better. I knew my life was not in danger, but still.”
Similar to in the NHL, Laraque Was Protecting Others
How interesting is it that Laraque contracted the disease by helping others. He noted that he believes he contracted the coronavirus picking up groceries for elderly people in the Montreal area because, as he said, they’re the most at-risk demographic.
He noted, “Elderly people don’t want to go out of the house to get groceries so I volunteered for them and I did that for them because it was advised for them to stay at home. So I just took their list of groceries and went to a couple of different grocery stores to pick up stuff for them. And when I did that, you know how contagious this thing is, you could be picking up a product, touch your face after and that’s it.”
I Was a Huge Laraque Fan
I have to admit that, cutting my teeth on the Edmonton Oilers, I was a huge Georges Laraque fan. He was in that long line of tough guys the Oilers used to bring out to take care of business when the other teams were harassing the Oilers’ star players. Players like Dave Semenko, Dave Brown, and even Marty McSorley are from that same lineage.
Although Laraque was from Montreal and ended his career there, he’ll likely be remembered best as a result of his play in Edmonton. He only left the Oilers for the Coyotes when the team wouldn’t sign him to a long-term contract or give him a no-trade clause.
His NHL career numbers include playing 695 games and scoring 53 goals and 100 assists. But he was best known for being a tough-guy and a protector of others. Few were like him. He was colorful both on and off the ice and remains that way today.
We wish you the best, Georges. Live long and prosper.
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