Upon signing his new six-year, $27 million contract, Brooks Laich said he only re-upped with the Capitals because he was sure the team would correct some “concerns” he had last season. Declining to air all that dirty laundry in public, Laich did admit the need for more “accountability.”
Last week, a conversation with Mike Knuble showed that Laich’s feeling is not unique.
“A lot of guys brought up accountability and players being accountable to coaches for their actions on the ice – whether they’re positive or negative,” Knuble told The Washington Times in a phone interview. “And really clamp down on things that are detrimental to the team idea. You want them to use your skill but you don’t want them to be reckless.”
For veterans like Knuble and Laich, it’s a matter of respect.
“You don’t really wanna let down the guy next to you,” Knuble said.
Here’s what Laich had to say on a conference call with reporters
“This year I think there’s gotta be a lot more accountability amongst our players to each other and to the coaches. … It’s up to every single player – it doesn’t matter how much you make or how long you’ve been here or what your name is – to practice as hard as they can, to practice as a team, to work as a team.”
His agent, Roland Thompson, said, “Like everyone else [Laich has] been assured in conversations with management that there will be some appropriate changes to address those concerns.”
All of this came out of year-end meetings that took place a little over 12 hours after the Caps were eliminated. That may have played a role in the boiled-over frustrations.
“I thought our meetings were kinda tough to have because we were within 24 hours of losing,” Knuble said. “It was a weird time to have a meeting because you were still wound up.”
But some of those things very well may be part of the narrative even if the team was having meetings now. The idea for the Caps is taking the step from young, promising team with potential to Stanley Cup contender.
To do that, Knuble said there’s a need to “self-police” in the locker room.
“When you have a young group like we used to have, you let the mistakes happen and you throw them back out there. You get to a certain point where they’re not kids anymore,” Knuble said. “You don’t get to a championship without playing within a set of guidelines.
But in signing four veterans in free agency, it seems like the Caps are on board with Laich and Knuble on just about everything.
One more note from talking to Knuble: his hand is in good shape after breaking it in Game 3 of the Rangers series.
“Absolutely fine. I had pins in it for two weeks after,” he said. “That was probably 2 ½ weeks after the season.”
Knuble is no-doubt, good-to-go for training camp.