- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 13, 2013

Brooks Laich was the only Washington Capitals player in town who didn’t take part in the first practice of training camp Sunday as he deals with an apparent groin injury.

Neither Laich nor general manager George McPhee would say whether the forward passed his physical, but not being on the ice with teammates was not a positive development.

“He’s not quite ready to go,” McPhee said. “We’re going to do this right and make sure that he’s 100 percent before we get him out there. There are some injuries that you can play through if it’s not going to make it worse. But if it’s an injury that’s going to get worse by playing with it, then we got to be careful.”

McPhee called it a “lower-body injury,” but it was fairly obvious this week that Laich was testing a groin injury suffered while playing in Switzerland during the NHL lockout. TSN reported early Sunday morning that Laich would miss the first one to two weeks of the regular season.

Laich, 29, is not one to let injuries sideline him.

“I’m waking up each day very hopeful. I can’t expand any on that,” Laich said. “I’ll just say I have a road map that I’m following and it’s going very well.”

Laich said he skated solo before teammates went on to the ice.

But his not being able to participate with the Caps could hurt Laich beyond just the disappointment of not playing. Because he was injured playing overseas during the lockout, the NHL and NHL Players’ Association agreed to term any such incidents as not hockey-related.

As such, “The Clubs are entitled to suspend without pay for the duration of the [injury],” deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in an email.

But Laich will continue to be allowed to use team facilities to rehab, McPhee said.

“I’m here, unless they kick me out,” Laich said.

Still, teammates don’t want Laich to rush back, even in a 48-game season that makes points more valuable.

“He’s a pretty proud guy. He wants to be out there and he feels like when he’s not out there, he’s letting his teammates down,” right wing Troy Brouwer said. “We want him to be 100 percent before he comes back. Anything less than that, we feel like he would be hurting the team.”

Fehr returns to Washington

The Caps on Sunday officially signed right wing Eric Fehr to a one-year, $600,000 contract. Fehr, 27, has battled shoulder injuries throughout his career but experienced success while playing in Finland during the lockout.

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