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Posted at 11:07 AM ET, 08/24/2011

Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau: Brooks Laich is ‘the consummate hockey player’


(Toni L. Sandys - WASHINGTON POST)

Did the Capitals overpay to re-sign veteran forward Brooks Laich this offseason? Coach Bruce Boudreau certainly doesn’t think so.

Laich, who in June agreed to a six-year extension worth $27 million, is “the consummate hockey player,” Boudreau said Wednesday in an interview on XM’s NHL Home Ice.

Laich finished the season with 16 goals and 32 assists, a dropoff from his career-high 25 goals and 34 assists in 2009-10. He also saw his power-play goals fall from 12 to four as the unit sputtered most of the season. But Laich’s versatility and work ethic make him one of the Capitals’ key contributors, Boudreau said.

“I’ve been with Brooks a long time now [in Hershey and Washington], and I thought it was a real important signing,” Boudreau said. “I mean, some people that don’t know him will look and say, ‘Oh, jeez, 16 goals. Boy, they’re paying him a lot of money for 16 goals.’

“But I think of him as a modern-day Bob Gainey,” Boudreau continued. “He can skate, you can put him in all situations, he can play center, wing, he’s gonna contribute on the power play, great penalty killer, he never tires, he plays as much as you want, he's in tremendous shape, and he’s the consummate hockey player.

“He’s the kind of guy... that lives and breathes hockey. He’ll get up and his training regimen in the summer is almost legendary, how hard he works. If I told him he had to do this and this and this to be better, he’d be the guy who does this, this and this, and he takes everything to heart. His whole goal is to win the Stanley Cup. ... I thought it was a real important signing.”

The love is clearly mutual. Laich has raved about his longtime coach in interviews and defended him multiple times during the Capitals’ eight-game losing streak last season.

On Wednesday, radio hosts Mike Ross and Mick Kern punted when it came to asking Boudreau about former Capital Matt Bradley’s recent comments (the coach declined to comment when asked about it at Redskins Park on Monday). Boudreau did talk at length about some of the potential rule changes tested at the NHL’s research and development camp, and he also had some solid advice for soon-to-be-HBO “24/7” stars John Tortorella and Peter Laviolette: “Don’t go through a losing streak in December.”

The full segment can be found here.

By  |  11:07 AM ET, 08/24/2011

 
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