MONTREAL -- For more than a decade, Georges Laraque made a living from being tough and physical.

Just a couple of weeks ago, the former Montreal Canadiens was running five or six days a week as he trained for a marathon.

But a battle with COVID-19 has battered the former Montreal Canadien.

In video messages posted to Facebook from his bed in Longueuil's Charles-Le Moyne Hospital, Laraque coughed repeatedly and fought through bouts of intense wheezing while describing the toll the virus has taken on him.

Laraque, who suffers from asthma, said he has pneumonia in both lungs because of COVID-19 and must use a puffer every few hours.

The 43-year-old said he began feeling symptoms last Sunday, at a time he was helping to deliver groceries to vulnerable people in his community.    Over the next days, his condition deteriorated.

“Now, I can't even get up without losing my breath. It's insane,” he said. “At night, I have fevers. I have to get up to take pills. I wake up in sweats all the time. I'm not the only fighting this. I don't feel sorry for myself. It's okay, this is what happens in life.”

Laraque thanked healthcare workers for helping himself and others in the same situation.

“You guys are real heroes. You're putting your health at risk just to help me. You guys are amazing,” he said. 

Laraque also questioned the Quebec government's plan to gradually reopen elementary schools and daycares beginning on May 11, given the limited amount of testing taking place.

"If you can't test all the kids in school, it's not going to be a safe environment for the parents and the teachers that are already way underpaid, so for two months of school is it worth it?" he said.

Laraque played parts of 12 seasons in the NHL from 1997 to 2010, including eight with Edmonton. He capped his career with two seasons in Montreal.

- The Canadian Press contributed to this report.