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And you thought Camp Mendelbaum was tough?

... That's got nothing on Big Georges' Finishing School. Hat tip to R-Gib for the pointer to this item which has passed through the 'sphere without much comment, as Oilers tough guys Steve MacIntyre and Zack Stortini went a few rounds in the gym with one of the NHL's most-feared scrappers. Kudos to SMac and Zack, who apparently take seriously the need for them to improve in all aspects of their games.   

You can agree or disagree with fighting in hockey, with plenty of fuel for both fires. What's undeniable is these three facts: it's been in the game since forever; it still is part of the game; and it is and always has been a tough gig.

Georges Laraque, shown above plying his trade in his customary beatdown style, was the last true enforcer the Oilers had, so it's cool to see him "give back to the community" all the way from Montreal.

"I want to help them and do everything I can to help them get better and develop. They come to my gym, so I try to take care of them like they're my brothers."

Such a caring fellow, that Big Zhawrzh. He had some interesting quotes about Stortini ... or at least I, unabashed Zorg fan, found them interesting :). Read on:

"It was just a matter of giving him a couple of tricks and pointers from a veteran on how to defend yourself and be aggressive," Laraque said. "Zack did really well."
 Let's hope the last part is true and the "pointers" Zhawrzh gave Zorg didn't all come in the form of overhand lefts.

"As a player, Zack is a really good player. He's a good skater and he can play hockey," Laraque said. "He's not a one-dimensional tough guy."
Typical BG positivity, or 'nuff said? Not sure I buy the "good skater" part, but for sure Stortini's a hard skater who could teach Laraque a thing or two about how to respond when the play goes the other way. None of this loop around the net shit, it's stop hard and go harder. Which is what endears me to this guy more than anything else.
"He doesn't worry about what people say about his fighting style. And when he fights heavyweights, big people like me, he has to know how to defend himself. The goal in a fight is not to get punched -- you don't want to get knocked out. So I showed him a couple of pointers on how to protect himself."
Zorg has long been criticized for being too defensive of a fighter. Interesting to read the "goal in a fight" according to one of the most overpowering scrappers in the game.
"It all depends on how big a guy you're fighting. If a guy is a lot bigger than you, you can't fight open, you have to be smart and you have to fight smart."
 The one guy who truly caught Stortini with a solid punch last year was likely the smallest guy he fought, Rick Rypien. The Canuck caught Zack with a left-handed surprise to open their late-season tilt, knocking the bigger man down but not out, as Stortini jumped back on his feet and gave as good as he got for the duration. But it was a good reminder that you can't really "fight open" against anybody. It's a tough gig.