The Washington Times - January 10, 2013, 01:19PM

Commissioner Gary Bettman had his apology for the NHL lockout. So did Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs. Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis thanked fans for their “patience, support and understanding.”

Brooks Laich had a different take.

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“I’m honestly really embarrassed by the lockout, like personally embarrassed,” Laich said Thursday. “I feel terrible about it. I feel like we just punched our sport in the face.”

Laich, who was the Caps’ NHLPA rep until signing to play for the Kladno Flyers in Switzerland’s National League A, talked about the importance of hockey to more than just players back in September.

His frustration over the 113-day work stoppage hasn’t waned.

“I feel bad for everybody that was affected by it directly or indirectly,” Laich said. “I’m sitting there saying A. how do you just take a sport away and then B. how do you take it away from everybody that’s involved in it? You go down the line, it has a ripple effect to everybody. I really hope that we can get them back in the building and get them re-energize.”

Laich said players will “do whatever to get [fans] back.”

“But I hope they haven’t lost the interest and lost the excitement for how fun the game really is and how exciting the game is. How much fun it is to come to the Verizon Center and how loud that building gets,” he said. “We want to get that feeling that when it’s a game day, they wake up and they got to go to work or whatever, but they’re waking up saying, ‘It’s a game tonight, I can’t wait to go,’ same as a player. The easiest way to do it is get back in the building as soon as we can and get playing. But our heart goes out to them, I hope they come.”