MONTREAL - With his political career on hold while he fights fraud charges, Georges Laraque is expressing a willingness to return to his previous vocation: hockey pugilist.
The ex-NHL enforcer says he's just the guy to add some muscle to the Montreal Canadiens bench.
Laraque, who turns 37 next month, says he's perfectly healthy and can fill the gap left by the injured George Parros and Brandon Prust, although his NHL stint saw him sidelined by injuries several times.
"Sure I could help them," Laraque said Wednesday at a news conference announcing his replacement as the Green party candidate in a Montreal-area federal byelection.
"The work I did for 13 years, I know how to do it. I'm big, I'm in shape — but forget it, " he said with a laugh.
Laraque said he couldn't play in home games in Montreal because there would be too many distractions, with his detractors being up in arms.
The Montreal native and animal-rights activist retired from the National Hockey League in 2010. He played for four teams in his 13 seasons — the Edmonton Oilers, Phoenix Coyotes, Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens, gaining a reputation for his dukes-up approach.
Laraque, who has been deputy leader of the Greens under Elizabeth May, said he would be a good fit for Habs coach Michel Therrien.
"I played for him in Pittsburgh, he's really good and I had a great relationship with him."
Although Laraque treated suggestions of a return to hockey lightly, there was some obvious appeal in the idea for him.
"Of course," he replied when asked if he'd like to play again. "Who could refuse?"
Laraque has vowed to fight the fraud charges against him, which he ascribes to a dispute with his former business partner in a synthetic-ice company.