Brooks Laich missed the first formal practice under Coach Adam Oates on Sunday and it’s likely he will miss the start of the start of the season as well, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie.
The Capitals forward has been nursing an apparent groin injury, which he is believed to have suffered while playing in Switzerland during the lockout. Neither Laich nor General Manager George McPhee would say whether he passed his physical.
“He’s not quite ready to go,” McPhee said. “There are some injuries that you can play through if it’s not going to make it worse. But if it’s an injury that’s going to get worse by playing with it then we gotta be careful.”
Laich, 29, didn’t divulge many details about his injury or the recovery process except to say that he had a “road map” to follow. He said he skated Sunday morning prior to the full group practice, as he has several times this week.
“I’m waking up each day very hopeful. I can’t expand any on that,” Laich said. “It’s disappointing not to be out there. Obviously, there’s a lot of excitement here today. It’s disappointing not to be on the ice today, but I wake up each morning hopeful and take it from there.”
Laich rarely accepts being sidelined by an injury for any length of time. He consistently displays a determination to continue practicing with his teammates and not miss game time, but this may be a case where he has to allow himself to rehabilitate – even if he’d rather try to fight through it.
“You’re sort of asking me, ‘Should I be more level-headed than what I have been in the past?’ and the answer is yes,” Laich said. “But it’s hard when your brain doesn’t really work like that. I mean, it’s – as a competitor, you want to – all you think about is the competition.”
McPhee declined to address whether the Capitals would have to pay Laich during his recovery process, given that he was injured during the lockout. Teams are permitted to suspend wihtout pay players who suffered an injury during the lockout.
While his teammates appreciate his desire to get back on the ice, they also don’t want to see Laich do more harm than good by trying to rush back.
“He’s a pretty proud guy. He wants to be out there and he feels like when he’s not out there, he’s letting his teammates down,” Troy Brouwer said. “But we want him to come back and, same as Nicky [Backstrom] before, is we want him to be a hundred percent before he comes back. Anything less than that we feel like he would be hurting the team.”
On another note, the summary of terms released by the NHL on Saturday night following the signing of the memorandum of understanding included a detail that a grievance filed by former Capital Eric Belanger had been resolved. In the summer of 2010, Belanger and his agent Joe Tacopina claimed the forward had agreed to a new contract with the Capitals but the deal was never finalized.
“That was a moving expense,” McPhee said. “Evidently he moved things and he wasn’t under contract to us. The league made a lot grievances go away and that was one of them.”