Georges Laraque named first executive director of CHL Players' Association

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After making a career out of defending teammates, Georges Laraque is stepping forward to help protect the rights of major junior hockey players.

The former NHL tough guy has been named executive director of the newly formed Canadian Hockey League Players Association, announcing on his Twitter account Tuesday that he was "proud" to accept the role.

Laraque provides a familiar face to an organization about which little is known.

Specific details about how the CHLPA will function have yet to be formally announced and league president Dave Branch told The Canadian Press on Tuesday night that he doesn't know anything about the union. Branch said he hasn't been contacted by anyone affiliated with the CHLPA.

Messages for Laraque weren't returned.

However, a spokesman for the CHLPA has told various media outlets that the group is seeking to improve the education package given to players in Canada's top three junior leagues.

Laraque spent three years playing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League — winning a Memorial Cup with the Granby Predateurs in 1996 — before moving on to a NHL career that spanned 695 games.

He hung up his skates in 2010, but he's remained extremely busy.

The 35-year-old is a vegan and environmental activist who serves as deputy leader of the Green Party. He also released a book about his life last year. During an interview with The Canadian Press on his book tour, Laraque talked about his need to passionately support causes that mean something to him.

"If I started to live my life by worrying about what people thought of me, I would live in a bubble on the moon," Laraque said. "When I joined politics and the Green Party, I got criticized. Once I became vegan, I got criticized. When I started defending animals, I got criticized.

"Everything I do I get criticized, but I don't care because that's the stuff I believe in and put my heart in to."