- VA apologizes to forgotten Marine veteran locked in Fla. clinic, forced to call 911
- U.S. social and economic trends on worrisome track, survey finds
- McDonald nomination unanimously referred to full Senate
- Chuck Norris honorary chairman of NRA voter registration campaign
- GOP outraged Obamacare investigators able to get coverage with fake IDs
- Family removed from Southwest flight over tweet about rude agent, dad says
- Michael Bloomberg thumbs FAA ban, plots course to Israel
- California bans full-contact football practices in off-season
- Thune: Downed fighter jets show more evidence of separatist capabilities
- Obama tells DNC fundraising crowd: ‘I’m not overly partisan’
Caps will rely on several to replace Brooks Laich
Versatile forward likely to miss start of season with groin injury
Question of the Day
Brooks Laich has made it well-known that while he’s fine with protocol and trainers doing their job, he’d rather fight through an injury than be forced out of a game. The Washington Capitals forward hasn’t missed one since March, 30, 2010.
Barring a sudden turn, that streak will likely will change Saturday night when the Caps open the season at the Tampa Bay Lightning. Laich is dealing with an apparent groin injury suffered while playing in Switzerland during the NHL lockout, and he wasn’t able to skate with teammates the first two days of training camp.
And as much as the 29-year-old would love to manage the pain and keep going, risking further damage doesn’t seem worth it, and the Caps will be tasked with filling his many roles.
“He’s a good penalty killer, he’s good on draws and pretty good in the D-zone, very responsible,” right wing Troy Brouwer said. “Guys like Jay Beagle are going to have to step up. Guys who are stepping into the lineup like [Wojtek] Wolski have to be able to contribute right away in trying to be able to figure out the systems and figure out the team and make sure that they fit in well.”
Laich’s absence might not cause the Caps to be as “lost,” Brouwer’s word, as they were last season when center Nicklas Backstrom missed 40 games with a concussion. But Laich does so much for this team that it’s not like one player can replace him.
When Washington signed Laich to a six-year, $27 million contract in June 2011, it was because of his versatility. He can be a scoring winger and a presence in front of the net or a shutdown center, plus he can take his talents to the power play and the penalty kill.
“Of course he’s big key for us and he’s that kind of guy who make results for us,” captain Alex Ovechkin said. “But he get hurt, we have guys who can step up their level as well.”
Wolski is getting the first chance to fill what should’ve been Laich’s spot on the second line with Mike Ribeiro and Brouwer. The offseason addition has just 16 goals in his last 104 NHL games, but playing with skilled linemates could spur an improvement.
“I’m excited about it. I obviously want the opportunity and hope to thrive in that position,” said Wolski, who hopes to help out on the penalty kill in addition to scoring. “It’s where I play my best. Hopefully it goes the way it should.”
Laich’s time with the Kloten Flyers of Switzerland’s National League A didn’t go the way he would’ve liked. Despite being almost a point-a-game player, the injury could cause him to miss some of the start of the Caps season. According to deputy commissioner Bill Daly, NHL teams don’t have to pay players injured overseas during the lockout.
Laich made $6 million last season, so missing out on a couple of checks won’t kill him. But not being on the ice is not something he tolerates.
Still, Mike Green’s 2011-12 season was derailed by groin problems. With such a delicate injury, Laich might need to change his approach.
“You’re sort of asking me, ‘Should I be more level-headed than what I have been in the past?’ And the answer is yes, but it’s hard when your braindoesn’t really work like that,” Laich said. “As a competitor, all you think about is the competition. You don’t think about, ‘Oh, take it easy now.’ Whenever you focus on the right now, it sort of takes outside influence from other people to remind you of certain things.”
“He obviously will be missed, but it’s not going to affect anybody,” said Beagle, whose role on the penalty kill should increase with Laich out. “It’s a time to step up and it’s a time to maybe play a little bit more.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
- WHYNO: Tomas Vokoun gets unexpected Stanley Cup shot with Penguins
- Brandon Meriweather, Redskins' secondary ready for bounceback year
- Kirk Cousins embraces role as Redskins' offseason starter as RG3 rehabs from injury
- Capitals notes: Realignment won't prompt roster remake
- Despite Caps' first-round playoff exit, Adam Oates' first season as coach left a positive taste
Latest Blog Entries
- Redskins injury updates (5/23): WR Pierre Garcon, CB Josh Wilson each had labrum surgery
- Capitals 'love' Matt Hendricks, but how much?
- Wojtek Wolski signs in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League
- Tom Poti won't return to Capitals, plans to continue his NHL career
- Is Tom Wilson ready to be a regular for Capitals?
Retailer pays a price for getting too close to Obama
- House task force to recommend National Guard on border, faster deportations
- CARSON: Costco and the perils of mixing politics and business
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
- HURT: The cost of 'free' water in Detroit
- Two Ukrainian fighter jets shot down
- David Perdue defeats Jack Kingston in Georgia Republican Senate primary runoff
- DEACE: How to go from civil rights icon to bigot in one quote
- Beretta moving to Tennessee over Maryland gun laws
- IRS seeks help destroying another 3,200 computer hard drives
- D.C. appeals panel deals big blow to Obamacare subsidies
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq