(Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)


Brooks Laich underwent surgery to repair a sports hernia earlier this month after re-injuring his groin, according to a team source familiar with the forward’s recovery process.

Laich has missed all but nine games this season with a nagging groin injury but there’s optimism within the organization that he could return to the Capitals’ lineup in time for a second-round playoff series or even sooner.

In mid-April, Coach Adam Oates told reporters that surgery wasn’t an option for Laich but that was apparently after the forward had already gone through with the procedure.

Sports hernia surgery, which has historically been viewed as a last resort by the Capitals organization, creates a four- to six-week recovery timeline for one of hockey’s most unpredictable injuries. Laich’s procedure took place “within a few days” of when the 29-year-old re-injured his groin on April 4, the source said, which would put him roughly three weeks along in the rehabilitation process.

It’s uncertain who performed the procedure but Laich met with St. Louis-based groin specialist Dr. Michael Brunt back on April 9. Brunt performed sports hernia surgeries on Mike Green and Joel Ward last year.

Saturday evening, before the Capitals’ regular season finale against the Boston Bruins, General Manager George McPhee said that Laich hoped to start skating again within the next two weeks.

“Hope so. He’s doing really well and he has a great attitude and feels great,” McPhee said. “Hope he starts skating this week or next. He’s in pretty good shape here.”

Pressed for a more specific timeline when the Capitals might expect Laich to return, McPhee replied: “Maybe second round. Maybe before that, though, with this guy. He works as hard as anybody works. We’ll see. He’s doing really well.”

Laich originally suffered the groin injury in November while playing in Switzerland during the NHL lockout but was unable to play when training camps opened in mid-January. He missed the first 28 games of the season before making his season debut on March 19 at Pittsburgh and went on to record a goal and three assists in nine games.

The Capitals went 6-2-1 with Laich in the lineup but in the third period against the Islanders on April 4 he was clearly laboring in his stride, prompting Oates and head athletic trainer Greg Smith to shut him down. Laich hasn’t skated since.