About three or four weeks ago, Brooks Laich, skating at home in Saskatchewan to prepare for the upcoming 2013-2014 season, sent a text to Washington General Manager George McPhee and Head Coach Adam Oates.
“I texted them both, said ‘100 percent,’” he said. “So there’s no fear with anything that went on last year.”
While the groin injury that sidelined him for most of last season isn’t giving him any pain or creating limitations, Laich skated for only 10 minutes Thursday after leaving the ice because of discomfort in his left hip flexor.
Laich, who noted that he had an intense acupuncture session on Wednesday that may have contributed to his discomfort today, first sustained the injury a week ago, the day he returned to D.C.
“Now it’s going to be a day-by-day thing,” he said. “It’s nothing that I’m really concerned about.”
McPhee echoed those sentiments.
“It doesn’t seem serious,” he said. “Hopefully it’s a day or two.”
While Laich’s hip flexor issue may prove to be a minor one, he did stay off the ice for four days after the initial injury last Thursday.
Laich, along with McPhee, is expressing optimism about the situation, but Thursday the 30-year-old forward talked candidly about his injury struggles over the past year, including this latest setback.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” he said. “My favorite part about playing hockey is skating, it’s my favorite aspect of the game…but this isn’t anywhere near what I went through last year.”
The potential setback is also frustrating for Laich’s teammates. Alexander Ovechkin referred to him as the Capitals leader. That’s high praise coming from the team’s captain
“It’s just tough,” Washington center Nicklas Backstrom said of the situation. “He’s such an important player for us, too. I mean, he can play all situations and that’s tough (losing him), but hopefully he’ll be back soon.”
Laich, who had circled the start of training camp as well as October 1, the start of the regular season, on his calendar, spoke openly about the injury that kept him off the ice and “completely miserable” last year.
“Physical pain off the ice – daily living, rolling over in bed, getting out of a chair, getting in and out of your vehicle – they’re nightmares, so that’s a huge toll on you,” he said.
Laich noted that the mental challenges were just as difficult.
“I love to play hockey,” he said. “It is the most fun thing that I have in my life, and you take that out of it…it was a tough, tough year, all the way around, no doubt about it.”
With all of the hardships he’s encountered in the last year, Laich was also asked about the importance of being patient.
“I’m really learning that lesson,” he said. “Continuing to learn that lesson.”
Hopefully the veteran forward and strong locker room presence won’t have to be patient for much longer and will be able to start the season on time.