With all due-respect to Habs hitman Georges Laraque, the newly-signed Gregory Stewart just may pick up the slack and do the job Georges was brought to Montreal to do – police, enforce, and get nasty on many a night when the game calls for nastiness.
And I say “with all due-respect” because the last thing I want is Georges mad at me. I don’t want him to beat me up. Georges can beat up pretty well everybody in the world, can’t he? Maybe there’s a couple of heavyweight boxers out there, and possibly Gerry Barber if he was still alive. But I think that might be it.
Stewart’s now the unofficial team tough guy. Georges has been hurt too often, has hands of stone, sits on the bench mostly, and smiles a lot as he begs someone to drop their gloves with him. But that’s not what the team needs. They need a John Ferguson. Someone who can skate, score a little, have that look in their eyes, breathe fire, and scare the living daylights out of most. And now Gregory Stewart has been given the opportunity to do this. (Note: Ferguson was basically a 15 to 20 goal scorer most years, even reaching 29 once. We don’t expect this of Stewart. Just the rest of it.)
What a confidence booster this must be for the young guy. He’s brought in and he knows he can make an impact if he does it right. All he has to do is do what’s mentioned above, plus check, work hard, go in the corners, punch the odd guy in the mouth, and protect the smaller, more skilled guys from the rogues who inhabit the league. And if he does all this, and does it well, he could become a star, a crowd favourite, and all without scoring more than a handful of goals.
Laraque’s problem is that most opposing players won’t fight him. He’s also not a great skater or playmaker, and he’s injury-prone. He would have made a huge difference if he’d been healthy and had gotten into some serious scraps, threw some jaw-breaking haymakers, and made people drip blood from their noses. But it wasn’t to be. He’s been a disappointment. But Georges, I didn’t say that. I think others did, but not me. I don’t want you mad at me. I’m sorry. I love animals too.
If Gregory Stewart fits the role perfectly, you watch how the team will play. It’s all very exciting. And wouldn’t if be fun to see the young fellow KO Mike Komisarek in game one of the season?