MONTREAL — NHL tough guy Georges Laraque is pumping out apologies faster than he pummels his opponents with uppercuts.
The Montreal Canadiens enforcer said he was sorry Tuesday for appearing in an ad being slammed as sexist.
Women’s groups decried the ad for an alcohol drink which showed Laraque playing street hockey with a group of scantily clad women.
Laraque said he should never have done the ad, was sorry if he offended anyone, swore he’d donated the proceeds to an animal-rights group, and promised to work for a women’s cause in the future.
“People who know me know I’m not that kind of (macho) person,” Laraque told reporters at a Habs practice Tuesday.
“That’s not the kind of thing I’d agree to promote.”
He said he had no idea what the ad’s script was when he arrived for the TV shoot, and that he only agreed to do it because it offered a lucrative payday for charity.
He said he always donates proceeds from his off-ice activities to charity, and that he was prepared to help a women’s rights group to make up for his appearance in the ad.
“If I’d known (the ad’s content) I wouldn’t have done it — that’s for sure.”
Tuesday’s events offered a snapshot into the dual life of Georges Laraque — a man who’s earned an off-ice reputation as a jolly giant, and an on-ice living by smashing in opponents’ faces.
That dichotomy was captured on the front page of a Montreal newspaper Tuesday.
As controversy began raging over his alcohol ad, Laraque was pictured in the newspaper walking dogs and discussing his recent conversion to veganism.
He says he swore off eating all meat, fish, poultry and dairy products this year after watching Earthling — a documentary about the exploitation of animals. He’s now working to narrate a French-language version of the movie.
He says his community involvement began with a hospital visit when he was with the Edmonton Oilers, and saw the joyful reaction of a young cancer patient when he arrived with teammate Doug Weight.
He told the newspaper that when he retires he wants to be remembered for his community work — not for the number of people he’s beaten up.
While Laraque is perhaps the most dangerous fighter in the league, he is frequently criticized by fans for not dropping his gloves enough.
They say his gentlemanly refusal to fight weaker players, combined with his own modest hockey skills, makes him a liability on the ice.