Brooks Laich would have been one of the most sought-after free agent forwards had he tested the open market, but the versatile forward said he never intended to push the Washington Capitals to that July 1 deadline.
“There was never a serious consideration to go anywhere else,” said Laich, who on Tuesday signed a six-year contract extension worth $27 million. “I talked to a few people in the organization after we let the dust settle after the playoffs and the exit there and… after conversations with them it was very evident that I wanted to return and that was still early in the summer. I gave my agent specific instructions that my main goal was to get back with Washington.”
Laich, 28, said some of the concerns he had about the team following the second-round sweep by the Tampa Bay Lightning would remain private. He added if he weren’t confident that the team is “moving in the right direction,” he wouldn’t have re-signed.
But Laich, who has become known for his presence in the Capitals’ dressing room, also said he wants to witness greater accountability on the part of each player.
“I think this year there’s got to be a lot more accountability among our players to each other, to the coaches,” he said. “The coaching staff does a great job setting out a game plan and it’s up to every single player to adhere to that game plan. It’s up to every single player — doesn’t matter how much you make, how long you’ve been here or what your name is — to practice as hard as they can to practice as a team to work as a team.”
Laich said he considered it important to have an agreement in place before the NHL draft, and to make certain that the Capitals were aware of his desire to return.
“I had no intention of going to July 1 or trying to push Washington right to the very edge,” Laich said. “At the draft, anything can happen. You see that with what Philly did. A lot of options are available to teams at the draft and I wanted to ensure that I was going to be back in Washington. I didn’t want Washington to go to the draft with the feeling that, ‘He’s looking to test the market. He’s probably not coming back so we’ve got to make a move now to cover up for the loss of him.’”