Yesterday, we debuted “On the Radar” with defenseman Tyler Sloan. The day before was “Team to Watch.” What is the exact rotation and frequency going to be? I don’t know. It will be a surprise.
How acquired: Minor league free agent
2008-09: 9 goals, 25 points with the Bears; 1 game (and 1 injured spleen) with the Caps
Laing had a storybook season two years ago, finding a steady job in the NHL for the first time in his career. Last year he got stuck behind a large group of forwards, and when he got called up he suffered a torn spleen in his first game at Tampa Bay.
Ever the resiliant one, Laing not only didn’t miss the rest of the season like was originially prognasticated — he returned ahead of schedule and helped the Hershey Bears to a Calder Cup title.
“I like to look at it as … I am a half-full, optimistic guy, so I put things in perspective,” Laing said. “I got called up, and they did have a lot of forwards under contract. At the start of the year they had [Eric Fehr] and [Boyd Gordon] sitting out, so that was a tough team to make out of camp. It just so happened that I didn’t get called up until the middle of March, but I did get called up. It wasn’t for an injury, I think I could have stayed here the rest of the year.
“I hate doing the ‘What If’ game because you can do that all night and all day and you can drive yourself crazy with it. Things happen for a reason, and if I don’t get hurt maybe we don’t win the Calder Cup.”
Laing had to spend three days in the hospital because of the torn spleen. Caps’ media relations guru Paul Rovnak stayed with Laing until his wife arrived, and Laing was able to keep his spleen because it was torn, not ruptured.
“I did get hurt, but I went down to Hershey and had the ride of my life down there winning the Calder Cup,” he said. “It was one of the biggest thrills I’ve had in hockey. I look at last year as being one of the best years I’ve had. Maybe not as good as two years ago, but maybe the second best [of my career].”
Now that Laing has been a recall for the past two seasons, he is ready to be on the team from the start. With injuries to Tomas Fleischmann and Eric Fehr potentially opening two spots on the roster, Laing is certainly in the mix to make the club.
And he’s not expecting any less.
“I would say this the is the highest my expectations have been in the past three years,” Laing said. “I’m putting a lot of pressure and a lot of expectations on myself. I think it is all in my control, and that is a good thing to know. As long as I put the effort out there and perform, I think I have a good shot of making the team.
“That’s my goal, and that’s all I am thinking about. Anything less than that and I am going to be very disappointed in myself.”
Depending on what type of role the Caps are looking to fill at the beginning of the season, Laing could have a very good chance of making the team. He has a favorable contract and is a “good character” guy. Plus he’s always been one of Boudreau’s favorite players (and for good reason — he is a coach’s dream). Even if he’s not in the lineup in Boston, he could be the team’s 13th forward as well.