Brooks Laich says injury is 'tough to measure'

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Brooks Laich keeps trying to skate and test out the groin injury that has kept him from playing for the Washington Capitals this season. But there’s still no timetable on his return.

“It sort of goes day-by-day,” Laich said of how he’s feeling. “Some days are better than others. It’s really tough to measure, but it’s really frustrating and a bit of a roller coaster, but you try and stay optimistic.”

Even after coach Adam Oates said last week that Laich had been cleared to take contact in practice, the 29-year-old didn’t sound terribly hopeful about playing any time soon. He has already set numerous return targets.

All of them have come and went.

“Now I think if you do that and you don’t hit it, you go through unnecessary frustration,” Laich said. “So I’m trying to just be positive every day and make each day a good day rather than circling something and hoping to get there or forcing something to try and get there when it’s not right. It’s been a learning experience.”

Oates said Laich is traveling with the team to New York City. That has been the case since Laich began skating his Caps teammates Jan. 31.

“That’s encouraging,” Laich said. “It’s just one of those injuries that, when it changes, he can move it up a notch.”

This experience has been “really taxing” for Laich, who played through a knee injury last year and a broken foot in the 2009 playoffs.

“There’s a lot of injuries you can play through and I’ve played through a lot in my career,” Laich said. “But a lot of those are just about handling the pain, but you are still able to be effective if you can control the pain. The injury that I currently have is a little different than that. If I was on the ice, I wouldn’t be effective for our team; I wouldn’t be able to help our team win.

“And I would never go out on the ice if I was going to be detrimental to our team. I would never try and play through an injury when I would be subtracting from our team. That is too selfish, and right now I would love to play but I can’t physically help our team win. I’m doing a disservice actually by playing.”

Despite how “limiting” the groin injury has been for Laich, he said surgery has never been considered as a solution.

“I personally think that if a player in his career can avoid surgery as much as possible, that is the best thing for him; I think that will extend your career,” he said. “But if it was something that would help me, I’m sure we would look at that, but so far we haven’t really explored that angle.”

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