November 17, 2019

Another goodbye to Brooks Laich, all-around good dude

Brooks Laich - Caps introductions before Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Thanks, Brooks. (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Lots of nice things have already been said and written about Brooks Laich, whom the Washington Capitals traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs late Sunday night, along with Connor Carrick and next year’s second round pick in exchange for winger Daniel Winnik and Toronto’s 2016 fifth round pick.

If you haven’t seen some those nice things yet, you can do so here, here, and here.

As far as hockey trades go, this one benefits the Caps in a couple of different ways.

  • The first and most obvious is that the Caps shed Laich’s salary for the offseason, since they have several players that will be due new contracts and were tight up against the salary cap to begin with.
  • Winnik is a similar player to Laich, so he’ll contribute on the fourth line and kill penalties, and do it with a smaller paycheck than Laich.
  • Winnik can be trusted with more minutes than Laich can at the stages in their respective careers.

In a perfect world, Laich would have been a Caps player for life. He’s the kind of guy you want on your team — hard working, stand-up, willing to accept whatever role the team needs.

It’s not a perfect world, though. Laich was a good-to-very-good hockey player for a long time for some crappy teams. Then the team got good and he stayed pretty good, then the team got very good and he got hurt. And he stayed hurt for a couple of seasons.

Then he got better, but he was also  a little older and wasn’t as good as he was before he got hurt. That, coupled with the oversized contract he signed when he was good, made him expendable. Honestly, the Caps were within their rights to buy Laich out before last season

It’s a shame that a good hockey player and all-around good dude succumbed to accumulation of injury.

Regardless, Laich still gave the Caps everything of what he had left until the end of his tenure.

Of course, Laich’s value to the franchise and the region wasn’t just on the ice. He was arguably the face of the team in the media around here, willing to talk to whomever about whatever for as long as you’d like. He almost always was the one that Caps P.R. made available after bad losses. And he always had time for the legions of fans that made him their favorite.

It’s tough when a fan favorite becomes expendable to the team. Over the past several season, Caps fans have lost some of those one by one. Peter Bondra, Olie Kolzig, Alex Semin, Mike Green, now Laich, among others. These long-time players move on, but their legacies in D.C. carry on, and one of the coolest things about hockey is that you’ll continue to see their jerseys proudly displayed by their fans in the hallways of Verizon Center forever.

The biggest shame of Laich’s departure is it comes with the Caps enjoying an historic season. And if it ends with the Caps finally making a real piece of history for the franchise, it will come without him. It’s hard to imagine he won’t be in the room anymore.

It happens to every player eventually. That doesn’t mean you have to like it.

Please enjoy the slideshow.

Brooks Laich enjoying being back at Caps training camp in Sept. 2011 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Brooks Laich enjoying being back at Caps training camp in Sept. 2011 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Students Thanking Brooks Laich After Hockey School (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Students Thanking Brooks Laich After Hockey School (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Brooks Laich had to be helped off the ice in second period on Jan. 5 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

(Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

Brooks Laich -Practice April 27 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Brooks Laich -Practice April 27 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Brooks Laich - Captials practice at Kettler, September 14, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Brooks Laich – Captials practice at Kettler, September 14, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Volunteers with Capitals Brooks Laich, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green - Washington Capitals and So Kids Can partnered with KaBOOM! and ARHA to replace the playground at S.T.A.R.S. Playground at Hopkins-Tancil Court in Old Town Alexandria, September 13, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Volunteers with Capitals Brooks Laich, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green – Washington Capitals and So Kids Can partnered with KaBOOM! and ARHA to replace the playground at S.T.A.R.S. Playground at Hopkins-Tancil Court in Old Town Alexandria, September 13, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Something made Caps Brooks Laich and Mike Green laugh while chatting wth volunteer Connor (age 7) - Washington Capitals and So Kids Can partnered with KaBOOM! and ARHA to replace the playground at S.T.A.R.S. Playground at Hopkins-Tancil Court in Old Town Alexandria, September 13, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Something made Caps Brooks Laich and Mike Green laugh while chatting wth volunteer Connor (age 7) – Washington Capitals and So Kids Can partnered with KaBOOM! and ARHA to replace the playground at S.T.A.R.S. Playground at Hopkins-Tancil Court in Old Town Alexandria, September 13, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Brooks Laich talking with media about potential lockout after Captials practice at Kettler, September 14, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Brooks Laich talking with media about potential lockout after Captials practice at Kettler, September 14, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Brooks Laich - Caps Game Day Practice at Kettler Iceplex before Playoff Round One, Game One,, 4/15/2015 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Distict Sports Page)

Brooks Laich – Caps Game Day Practice at Kettler Iceplex before Playoff Round One, Game One, 4/15/2015 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

About Dave Nichols

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Washington Nationals, Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. Dave also covers national college football and basketball and Major League Soccer for Associated Press and is a copy editor for the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, WA. He spent four years in radio covering the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland football and basketball teams. Dave is a life-long D.C. sports fan and attended his first pro game in 1974 — the Caps’ second game in existence. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveNicholsDSP

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