Brooks Laich gets 'mind vitamin' by skating with teammates

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Brooks Laich (groin injury) skated with his Washington Capitals teammates Tuesday for the first time since Feb. 16. He still has no timetable to return, but it was a sign of progress.

“I was almost to the breaking point,” Laich said. “It was a lot of tough days, a lot of long, hard days mentally for myself. I really enjoy playing the game and I really miss being part of the team. And to be able to get this sort of mind vitamin today gives me some more energy and a better attitude and hopefully get me back in the lineup soon.”

This “mind vitamin” started with his skating alongside injured defenseman Mike Green before Tuesday’s morning skate and then staying on for the full team practice. The 29-year-old has missed the first half of the Caps’ season with the groin injury that he suffered while playing in Switzerland during the NHL lockout.

For coach Adam Oates, it was nice to see Laich and Green skating, even if there’s no promise that either will be ready any time soon.

“Two of our important guys, guys who play in every situation,” Oates said. “They’re very valuable assets to our team. Every team goes through injuries; we’re no different, but you want all your players.”

Laich praised team trainers for helping him through off-ice work that paved the way for his return to practice. When he came off, he was smiling and joking around.

“I was either gonna come off and be in a good mood or it was gonna be a tornado,” Laich said. “But I felt really good. Wasn’t hesitant. The strength felt pretty good. First time in a little while. I’ve skated the last couple of days just by myself, but to get back out with the team felt pretty good.”

As for a time frame, Laich said a lot had to do with how Tuesday went. He plans to skate Wednesday.

“Today was a huge step in the right direction,” Laich said. “Something I’m really excited about. I think I feel like I’m getting close now. It’s just up to the training staff and the coaching staff when they feel that I can contribute and help the team win.”

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