Laraque apologizes after ad criticized

MONTREAL -- NHL tough guy Georges Laraque of the Montreal Canadiens is apologizing after appearing in an advertisement that violates NHL rules regarding alcohol.

The ad for alcoholic beverage Octane 7.0 shows Laraque playing street hockey with several scantily clad women, and it has drawn the ire of the NHL and some women's groups.

League officials sent The Canadian Press a copy of Article 25.1 of its collective bargaining agreement with the players' union that states no player can sponsor or endorse an alcoholic beverage. Asked whether Laraque might be punished, the league said there would be no further comment.

An apologetic Laraque said after practice on Tuesday that he should never have appeared in the ad, was sorry if he offended anyone, swore he 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 said. "That's not the kind of thing I'd agree to promote."

The ad, running only on the Internet, contains no dialogue but concludes with a printed slogan in English and French. Laraque said he had no idea what the ad's script was when he arrived for the television 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 is now 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," he said.

33mag.com, the advertising company responsible for the spot, said it was done as a parody of sexist beer ads. Octane 7.0 combines an energy drink with alcohol.

"This is one more example of sexist advertising," said Alexa Conradi, of the Federation des femmes du Quebec, the province's most prominent women's group. "Why is it that when we're trying to market a campaign toward men aged 20 to 35, we always use this kind of ad? What does that say about our concept of masculinity?

"That's a very limited concept of masculinity, to always feature half-naked girls at angles where you don't see their whole body," Conradi said.