“I could either be a 100-point American League hockey player, or a 50-to-60-point NHL hockey player,” Laich recalled. “He said, ‘You make the choice.’ “
Laich has said that he doesn’t play for the money, and his story about misplacing checks in his trunk and line going into free agency that “Saskatchewan is a pretty cheap place to live,” makes the talk easy to believe.
And even though Laich’s mind isn’t on his money, that doesn’t mean he didn’t warrant the deal.
Laich won’t score 30 goals or pile up 100 points; he has never put up more than 59 points in NHL career. But he’ll earn $6 million this season, his seventh, largely for his ability to do so many things so well.
“I take a great deal of pride in being able to be on the ice in every situation,” Laich said. “I never want the coach to look down the bench and say, ‘OK, in this situation, I can’t put him on.’ So it’s something I work hard at.”
Making of Laich
Laich knew how to score, putting up 103 points in 57 games in midget AAA hockey a few years earlier. But he stepped back and thought about it what his coach was saying, and it all clicked.
“I had to learn how to kill penalties, I had to learn how to pick up assignments, chip pucks out, do little things — learn the game more than just the offensive side of it,” Laich said. “It’s advice that I’ve never forgot, that I’m very thankful for, and it actually amazes me how spot-on he was.”
“That was a major point in my life that determined my career path,” Laich said.
All-around hockey player