Caps’ Brooks Laich dealing with groin injury, uncertainty

Oates says doctors are ‘having a tough time identifying exactly’

No news is not necessarily good news when it comes to Brooks Laich and his groin injury. Information is scarce from the Washington Capitals, who continue to list the forward as day-to-day.

But that’s masking the possibility that Laich could miss at least the final seven games of the regular season. He saw Dr. Michael Brunt and another specialist this week, and coach Adam Oates said doctors are “having a tough time identifying exactly” what the problem is.

Laich suffered a lower-body injury April 4 that Oates said was having an effect on the 29-year-old forward’s groin.

As Laich and the team look for answers and evaluate the next step, defenseman Mike Green can draw from his own experience of being out with a groin injury.

“He’s got to believe that we’re going to do our job to make sure we make a run here,” Green said. “And as long as he does his job, he’ll be back and we’ll still be playing hockey when he’s back.”

No one knows when Laich might be back, or those with that knowledge aren’t sharing that information. General manager George McPhee declined comment Friday when asked about Laich, saying only, “We know what the issue is.”

Because skating motions are not as natural to the human body as walking and running, groin injuries are common for hockey players. Green missed 41 games last season with a groin injury that led to an abdominal tear and required sports hernia surgery, done by Brunt in January 2012.

Defenseman Tom Poti missed two full years with groin injuries and a fractured pelvis. He never had surgery to repair groin problems.

It’s uncertain if surgery would help Laich more than rest and rehabilitation.

“I talked to him early on in the year, the sound of it, it’s one of those things – the same thing I had – where it wasn’t able to be rehabbed to 100 percent,” Green said. “At some point you just got to make a decision. It’s unfortunate that he’s going through what he’s going through right now.”

Laich called missing the first 28 games of the season the worst thing he has gone through in his career. “I wouldn’t wish this upon anyone,” Laich said last month. “I really wouldn’t.”

It was difficult for Laich to be away from his teammates and not on the ice for games. At some point he might have to make a decision, but Laich said his plan is to play until he’s 50 and doesn’t take sitting out well.

“You know Brooks, he’s hard-headed,” Green said. “I gave him my info, but who knows how he takes it. He’s got one vision and that’s in his own head.”

If nothing else, Laich has plenty of guys around the Caps to talk to about groin injuries. In addition to Green and right wing Joel Ward (who had sports hernia surgery last summer), Oates tore a groin muscle twice during his career.

Oates said the second time he was a day away from seeing a specialist in Vancouver and having sports hernia surgery to repair a lower abdominal tear.

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