Brooks Laich went through it all with the Washington Capitals.
He was there for the rise; he was there for the fall.
He was still there when they rose again.
He helped change a tire along the way.
But he’s not with the Caps anymore. On Sunday, the 32-year-old forward was traded to the rebuilding Maple Leafs.
Basically, his contract had become a liability, and that was a problem for a team that sees a two-year window to win its first-ever Stanley Cup.
He understood the reasoning behind the trade, but it still surprised him.
“I have such an empty feeling that I never got the ultimate goal,” Laich told reporters Wednesday, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “Before my time in D.C. ended, I really wanted to do it with Alex (Ovechkin), I really wanted to do it with Nicky (Backstrom) and really wanted to do it with Mike Green, who unfortunately wasn’t back this year. Those guys meant a lot to me, they really did. Very special people, very special players and it’s just tough to not be able to do it with them.”
Laich made his Leafs debut Monday in Toronto. Tonight, he’ll face his former teammates at Verizon Center.
“Obviously, it’s a pretty unique situation,” he said, “but I don’t think it’s really something you can prepare for. I think for myself I just have to focus that it’s a red jersey and not focus on the other names.”
He was asked if it will be tough to watch the Caps in the playoffs.
“No, no, no,” he said. “They’re such good friends. I have so many good friends on that team. Aside from tonight I wish them the best. I really do. They’ve had such a huge impact on my life and I’m so grateful and thankful for them not only as friends but as teammates, colleagues. I always will wish them the best.”