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Over the years, notoriety has typically been Georges Laraque's ally, but perhaps no longer.

The outspoken Montreal Canadiens enforcer, a militant vegan and animal welfare activist, has landed himself at the epicentre of twin controversies involving actors who don't often find themselves on the same side of an argument: feminist groups and the NHL.

Earlier this year, Laraque was paid to appear in a jiggle ad for an alcohol-laced energy drink, donating the proceeds, he says, to an animal-rights charity.

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It features the fan favourite playing road hockey with a bevy of buxom, revealingly-clad women.

Sports leagues generally discourage their players from open endorsements of alcohol - celebrity booze endorsements are expressly forbidden in many jurisdictions, although not in Quebec - and the NHL, which nevertheless accepts beer company sponsorships, is no different.

An article of the NHL's collective agreement states: "No player shall be involved in any endorsement or sponsorship of alcoholic beverages [excluding malt-based beverages such as beer]and/or tobacco products."

The league offered no comment on whether the cider-based caffeine beverage Laraque endorsed is covered by the ban, or what sanctions he might face.

But the difficulties don't end there.

The commercial, which has been circulating on the Internet for several weeks, has provoked the ire of several prominent women's groups, who charge that it perpetuates negative stereotypes and deals a blow to the notion of gender equality.

The president of Fédération des femmes du Québec, the province's pre-eminent women's group, denounced the ad as "one more example of sexist advertising" in an interview with The Canadian Press.

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Laraque apologized to anyone who may have been offended, and insisted he wasn't aware of the spot's content until he showed up on set.

"People who know me know I'm not that kind of person," said Laraque, who offered to tape a public service announcement in support of women's rights.

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About the Author
National Correspondent

Sean Gordon joined the Globe's Quebec bureau in 2008 and covers the Canadiens, Alouettes and Impact, as well as Quebec's contingent of Olympic athletes. More


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