(Gary Wiepert/Associated Press)


Brooks Laich skated with his teammates at Madison Square Garden Wednesday, marking the forward’s first appearance on the ice since he aggravated a groin injury on April 4 in a game against the New York Islanders. He skated for a little more than an hour and took part in the team’s scratches skate.

“Obviously he’s feeling a little better,” Coach Adam Oates said. “He’s out there skating, handling the puck. He’s still a little ways away.”

Laich, 29, underwent sports hernia surgery in early April just days after he re-injured his groin, according to a team source with direct knowledge of the forward’s injury and rehabilitation process.

The procedure carries a recovery timeline of four to six weeks, and he’s roughly four weeks along in that process. Capitals defenseman Mike Green had sports hernia surgery in January 2012 and returned to the lineup after only a month on the sidelines.

While skating with the team is an important step in the recovery process, there remains no timetable for when Laich will be ready to return to the lineup. He won’t play against the Rangers in Game 4 Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden and said he’s “unsure” of when he

“I’ve got to get some good practices in first and absorb a little contact,” Laich said. “But the team’s playing very well right now, so I don’t feel the need to rush it and certainly when I get back in I want to stay in.”

Laich suffered a groin injury in November while playing in Switzerland during the NHL lockout and missed the first 28 games of the regular season. He made his season debut on March 19 at Pittsburgh and went on to record a goal and three assists in nine games before aggravating the groin injury against the Islanders on April 4.

Oates stressed caution once again with Laich’s recovery and said that the main goal is to prevent another setback from occurring.

“In the past year we’ve set ourselves back a couple times,” Oates said. “And we don’t want that to happen again so obviously we’re conscious of it.”

Laich denied that he had sports hernia surgery but declined to answer questions about the nature of his procedure and recovery. The Post stands by its report that Laich did undergo sports hernia surgery.