To some people, it’s hard for hockey players to seem like anything more than numbers – whether it’s their point totals, cap hits or even the widely critiqued digits on the front of their helmets. It’s easy to forget that they are people too, with real-life concerns that really come to the forefront when their contracts expire or they deal with the culture shock related to being traded.
(Just look at Eric Belanger, who sadly discussed all the adjustments his children dealt with during his journeyman years.)
That being said, you would think that they wouldn’t have much trouble cashing their large paychecks. Recently re-signed Washington Capitals center Brooks Laich amused reporters while discussing his mishaps with two checks during his earlier years.
In both cases, he misplaced checks only to find them in mad scrambles months later.
“There’s been twice that I’ve done that,” Laich said. “One time, my first year in Washington, we got a paycheck somewhere in February, then we went on the road for a week and I didn’t want to take it with me, so I put it in my glove compartment. And I got sent to (minor league affiliate) Hershey for the playoffs.
“And I was going to Blockbuster in, like, June during the Calder (Cup) finals, and I was looking for my Blockbuster card, and I opened my glove compartment and there was a paycheck in there from February.”
Then Laich told the about the other one.
“I’ll never forget it. It was my first bonus check when I was 19 years old and it was for $46,000,” he said. “And I got it, and I looked at it, and my first thought was ‘This is too much money, I can’t accept this.’ And I just put it in my closet in my apartment.
“About a month later, my mom phoned me and she said ‘What have you done with your money?’ And I said ‘Oh, I don’t even know where it is.’ I had to search my apartment. And she said ‘Put that thing in the bank.’ I just didn’t know what to do with it. It was more money than I had ever seen. Now I have direct deposit, so I don’t have to worry about that stuff.”
The less Laich has on his plate, the better. He’s a fantastic fit as a versatile third-line center, but the Capitals expect him to play the role of second liner. They’re also paying him to do it in the form of a six-year, $27 million deal.
If nothing else, you can take Laich’s hard work to the bank – except maybe when it comes to literally going to the bank.