Martin Erat suffered a dislocated elbow in Game 4 against the Rangers but expected to return to the lineup in the second round had Washington advanced, the veteran winger said Wednesday.
“It’s kind of sad. When I was getting ready to go back and I’m not going to be able to,” Erat said, adding that the injury didn’t require surgery. “Just rehabilitation, get it straight and hope in a couple weeks it’s going to be okay.”
Erat’s brief time in Washington since being acquired at the trade deadline from the Nashville Predators has been marred by injuries.
In just his second game with the Capitals, the 31-year-old Czech injured his left knee when he was hit into the boards late by Florida Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson. Erat missed three games with that injury before returning in the regular season. He finished with one goal and two assists in nine regular season appearances.
In Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, Erat was trying to keep pace with New York’s Derek Stepan when Alex Ovechkin launched himself into the two players, causing them all to go flying and the Capitals’ newest winger to land awkwardly on his left arm and dislocate his elbow.
“I try to catch the guy, he hold me underneath the elbow and when Ovi came through – my elbow just couldn’t handle it,” said Erat, who added he would have tried to play through the injury if it had been on his right arm.
“It’s just about the feel because it’s the bottom hand, on my stick,” Erat explained. “It means I have to have it straight all the time and it’s mean if it be upper hand I would probably be able to play but with bottom hand it was different.”
Brooks Laich, who underwent minor groin surgery in early April, also would have been ready to rejoin the lineup had Washington managed to reach the second round. The 29-year-old forward said that General Manager George McPhee, the coaching staff and medical staff decided in advance that they weren’t going to push him back into the lineup, regardless of the circumstance in the series, before he was deemed ready.
“After Game 6 I approached our medical staff and wondered if there was a chance of me getting in for Game 7 and they said that this was decided before that we weren’t going to risk you based on circumstance,” Laich said. “We were going to look out for your long-term health and your career and the answer I got is sort of ‘protect myself from myself’, which is what I really need.”
Laich didn’t want to discuss details of his surgery but did confirm that Michael Brunt, who is based in St. Louis, performed the operation. Laich explained that he explored numerous rehabilitation strategies in an effort to avoid surgery, but that ultimately after his final game on April 4 against the New York Islanders it was clear he didn’t have an option.
“During the whole process we made the best decision we could based on the information that we have. Hindsight is 20/20 and looking back now, if I could’ve done it in January and been good to go by mid-February, late February, yeah I would’ve done it,” Laich said when asked if he had regrets about not having surgery sooner.
“I wanted to avoid the surgery and also at that time we actually had an MRI in mid-February, end of February, I’m not sure of the exact date, from the doctor that ultimately did the procedure and he said: ‘I don’t know what you want me to do, there’s nothing I can do here, I don’t see anything that I can possibly fix right now.’ So that was tough for us, too. If we’re not seeing something on film, what is actually causing the damage and the pain and why would we do an unnecessary, deemed unnecessary, surgery at the time?”
Laich said he expects to be “100 percent healthy, fit and ready to launch” for training camp next fall.