Back in March, Brooks Laich said he felt “mentally and physically liberated” after groin surgery.
Flash forward to the present and it sounds like he’s still feeling pretty good.
Per the Washington Post, the 31-year-old Capitals forward has been telling his girlfriend he feels “5 years old again,” finally free of the groin issues that had felt like “chains around” his body and were fueling all sorts of buyout speculation.
“It’s so much fun,” Laich said of being able to play without worrying about his groin. “Honestly, I come in with a monster smile every morning. Something you really realize is when you go through a little bit of health problems and the game gets taken from you a bit, you realize how important it is to you, how much fun you have playing.”
The Caps would love Laich to return to the days of 20-goal seasons. He had three straight of those from 2007-08 to 2009-10.
Even, say, 15 goals and 25 assists, combined with solid two-way play, would go a long way to justifying his $4.5 million cap hit.
Laich has just nine goals in 60 games since the lockout ended.
Related: New Caps GM thinks ‘we need Brooks Laich’
Brooks Laich’s season might end the way it began: Dealing with groin problems.
Laich is headed to St. Louis to see a groin specialist to examine the injury he’s been dealing with on and off all season. As CSNWashington.com’s Chuck Gormley shares, it might be enough to end his season.
“We haven’t been given a timetable, but I did here we’d have to make the playoffs [for Laich to return], but not for the rest of the [regular season],” Washington Capitals coach Adam Oates said.
What’s aggravating about the ongoing groin problem for the Caps and Laich is that he had it operated on last season. He’s missed 18 games this season because of it.
As it is, the Capitals are fighting to just make the postseason.
Washington is two points back of both the Blue Jackets and Rangers in the Metropolitan Division. The Jackets hold down third while the Rangers are in the second wild card position. With things being as tight as they are in the East, things fluctuate constantly and the Caps will be on that fence the rest of the way unless they go on a tear.
If they want to see Laich back in the lineup again this season, it sounds like it’ll be playoffs or bust to make it a reality.
Related: Expect Laich buyout speculation to grow
Brooks Laich is hurt and unable to play.
From the Washington Post, ahead of the Capitals’ game tonight in Boston:
Laich aggravated the nagging groin problem that has plagued him over the last two seasons Wednesday night in Philadelphia and, in what isn’t an encouraging sign, the veteran forward did not stay on the road with the team but is on his way back to Washington.
As the end of the season draws closer, expect to hear more chatter about a possible compliance buyout for Laich. Signed through 2016-17 with a cap hit of $4.5 million, the 30-year-old’s contract has become a liability for the club.
One caveat: even if the Caps do want to use their remaining compliance buyout on Laich, there’s always the possibility he’s not healthy enough for them to do so. We’ve seen injuries restrict a team’s ability to buy out players before (see: Martin Havlat in San Jose).
Related: Oates thinks Laich is being ‘hypersensitive’ about groin issues
Capitals forward Brooks Laich is questionable for tonight’s game in Buffalo. Yep, it’s about that troublesome groin of his again.
“I’m sure he’s going through so many bumps and bruises that I’m sure he’s hypersensitive to what’s going on down there, which is natural for what he’s gone through,” Washington coach Adam Oates said, per NHL.com. “You look at every single game, you get hit so many times you don’t realize. Faceoffs you get poked and prodded that maybe it was just something like that that he thinks, ‘Oh no, here we go again.’ And he skated today and he felt pretty good.
“I’m sure in his own mind he wants to make sure he doesn’t set it back. He said to me, ‘What if I play [Tuesday] and I can’t play Thursday?’ I’m like, ‘Well, you can’t play [Tuesday].’ But I don’t know how you think like that. He’s obviously over-thinking it and hopefully he felt good out there and he can conquer it.”
Not even two weeks ago, Laich was saying how “great” he felt physically, so this has to be frustrating. The 30-year-old has just five goals and four assists in the 38 games he’s managed to play this season. Not the kind of production the Caps need from a veteran that takes up $4.5 million in cap space.
Brooks Laich’s wonky groin will keep him out for a third consecutive game on Tuesday when Washington hosts Carolina at Verizon — but his absence might not be as negative as first thought.
Since Laich’s injury, the Caps are 2-0-0 with wins over Montreal and the Islanders, snapping a four-game losing streak in the process. According to head coach Adam Oates, the Caps’ ability to keep within their system regardless of who’s in the lineup is the key to success.
“I keep reinforcing that there’s only a certain way to play,” Oates told the Washington Post. “You’ve got to give yourself those chances because it’s an 82-game schedule. A lot of different things can happen. We’re seeing that on a night-to-night basis. They all know that. They’ve just got to be reminded of that.”
Laich’s absence forced Oates to shuffle the deck, and it appears some chemistry came from it.
The new-look third line of Jay Beagle, Joel Ward and Jason Chimera was extremely aggressive in the wins over the Habs and Isles while Mikhail Grabovski and Eric Fehr — who connected on the second line prior to Laich getting hurt — have also looked good, combining for five points in last two games.