It’s always interesting when a former player comes out with a book after retiring because you never quite know what unknown details are going to be revealed. Former NHL enforcer Georges Laraque‘s news is particularly stunning, though.
Laraque, who played for Edmonton, Phoenix, Pittsburgh and Montreal in his 12-year career, said in his new book, The Story of the NHL’s Unlikeliest Tough Guy, that steroid use was common in NHL locker rooms during his playing days.
Laraque said that such use wasn’t limited to enforcers either, insisting that star players also took performance-enhancing substances.
The long-time tough guy didn’t point out any players by name, but he did offer some hints as to what to look for in steroid-using players.
“I can give you some clues here that will help you identify the ones using steroids, if you really feel like it. First, you just have to notice how some talented players will experience an efficiency loss as well as a weight loss every four years, those years being the ones where the Winter Olympics are held,” he wrote, according to the Toronto Star. “In the following season they make a strong comeback; they manage a mysterious return to form.”
Laraque said that enforcers would use steroids to gain weight before arriving in the pros, while also noting that tough guys would frequently use other substances — such as Ephedrine — to desensitize before a fight.
“Before a game, as I would warm up on the ice, I would always look at the tough guy on the other side,” he wrote, according to The Associated Press. “If his arms were trembling, if his eyes were bulging, I knew for sure he wasn’t going to feel any of the punches I would give him.”
Laraque reportedly also took a shot at Wayne Gretzky, whom he played for in Phoenix in 2006-07. He called Gretzky “the worst coach I’ve ever played for.”