What Will Become Of Brooks Laich?

Posted December 28, 2013

Brooks Laich (Photo by M. Richter)

Brooks Laich was visibly tired and frustrated after Monday night’s loss against the Ducks. “It was the simple things we didn’t do that cost us,” he explained. “We didn’t stick to the game plan. For whatever reason, we didn’t execute. We didn’t get pucks deep. We didn’t make them turn and go get it. We didn’t lean on them. They’re on a road trip, and we didn’t tire them out in the 2nd and 3rd period.”

Recovering from a recurring groin injury and playing in his first game since November 27th, Laich started the game just as he expected. “It took the first 3 or 4 shifts to get my legs under me,” he said. “As the game wore on, I felt good.”

But unfortunately, it was an error by Laich and his linemate, Joel Ward, that would set up the game winning goal for the Ducks. “The puck bounces right through the slot—right through me and Joel. And the guy makes the shot and Grubi didn’t see it,” he said.

But is there something more at stake for the fan-favorite than a single game loss? On Thursday, Laich practiced with the team but didn’t participate in the rushes with his line, and he was absent from the morning skate on Friday. And, as predicted, he didn’t dress for the Caps’ Friday night win over the New York Rangers, citing continuing soreness stemming from Monday night’s game.

The Caps’ have been playing well and the lines really seem to be gelling. So, are the Caps a better team without Brooksy? Whether you are gasping in disbelief that I would even pose such a question, or sadly shaking your head in agreement, here’s the deal. Laich is untradeable. He has a ‘no trade/movement clause’ in his contract, which means he has to be willing to be traded. His $4.5 million a year deal extends until the 2016-2017 season, after which he becomes an unrestricted free agent. He is tied with Martin Erat as the 4th-highest paid player on the Caps’ roster. Only Alex Ovechkin, Nick Backstrom and Mike Green are higher-paid players. But who would take a chance on an aging, injury-prone hockey player? Nobody.

For now, the Caps are stuck with trying to rehabilitate Laich’s body, mind and spirit. It’s got to be totally disheartening. It could be seen on his face and heard in his voice after the loss to the Ducks. Fans can only hope for the best. We all want him to come back and do well. After all, what choice do we have?