May 5, 2016

Washington Capitals Game 63 Recap: Caps get past Maple Leafs in Laich’s return

TEAM PAYS TRIBUTE TO LAICH TO ROUSING STANDING OVATION

All the feels. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

All the feels. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

Less than 72 hours after Brooks Laich was shipped off to Toronto, the hometown fans at Verizon Center on Wednesday night warmly welcomed their adopted hometown son back with open arms, cheering during his first-period tribute video that aired on the jumbotron and even when his name was briefly on the big screen as part of the Maple Leafs’ starting lineup.

On the ice, however, Laich’s return to the nation’s capital was one of decidedly less positivity for his new team. Two quick goals from the Capitals in the first paved the way for a 3-2 Washington win, in spite of a lackluster overall performance for a lot of the contest from the hosts’ standpoint.

[Read more…]

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)

Capitals trade Brooks Laich, Connor Carrick to Toronto for Daniel Winnik

The Washington Capitals have traded Brooks Laich, their longest-tenured player, defense prospect Connor Carrick and a 2016 second-round draft pick to the Maple Leafs in exchange for winger Daniel Winnik and a fifth-round draft pick in 2016.

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Washington Capitals place Brooks Laich on waivers

According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the Washington Capitals have placed Brooks Laich, the team’s longest-tenured player, on waivers.

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Washington Capitals Game 43 Recap: Kuznetsov brings magic to Caps win over Canucks

CAPITALS EXTEND HOME WIN STREAK TO 11; OVECHKIN HONORED FOR 500

Phonto Courtesy of Monumental Network

Phonto Courtesy of Monumental Network

This may have been a night to honor Alex Ovechkin, but it was another Russian star that stole the show.

Evgeny Kuznetsov scored two goals with an assist to pace the Washington Capitals over the Vancouver Canucks 4-1 at Verizon Center.

Before the game, the organization presented Ovechkin with a gold hockey stick to memorialize his 500th career goal, scored on Monday against Ottawa.

But it was Kuznetsov that did the damage in this one, scoring his 15th and 16th of the season — starting and ending the scoring as the Caps generally had their way with their Western Conference opponent. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 24 Recap: Holtby sublime, pushes Caps past Habs

HOLTBY EXTENDS CAREER-HIGH WINNING STREAK TO EIGHT GAMES

(Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Washington Capitals came off a four-day rest looking as slow as if it was the first game of a new season, but luckily Braden Holtby decided to extend his win streak with or without the rest of the teams help. T.J. Oshie’s second goal of the game, a tip-in from the high slot off a Karl Alzner wrister, was the difference in a 3-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens at Centre Belle, the Caps’ sixth in a row.

Tom Wilson has two shots in two games — and two goals. That is how this game started and it would have been nice of the rest of the Caps could of kept that pace. Wilson’s  goal came early in the first when the Canadiens turned it over in their own zone following a Brooks Laich poke check. Laich then saucered a nice pass to Wilson, who went top shelf from the goal mouth to put the Caps up 1-0. After that it was up to Braden Holtby to up their stat line of 11-1-0 when scoring the first goal this season. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 12 Recap: Caps besiege the Bruins

FIRST GOALS FOR BROOKS LAICH AND KARL ALZNER HELP CAPS TOP BRUINS

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 05: Brooks Laich #21 of the Washington Capitals celebrates scoring a second period goal against the Boston Bruins at Verizon Center on November 5, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Last week Karl Alzner and Justin Williams mentioned a lofty hope for the season; do not lose back-to-back games. A simple proposition, much more difficult to execute. After an ugly loss to the New York Rangers on the road Tuesday, the Washington Capitals returned to Verizon Center looking to keep that hope alive.

Alex Ovechkin scored his seventh goal of the season and the Caps indeed avoided losing consecutive games, knocking off the Boston Bruins 4-1.

It took 193 minutes and a handful of seconds, and an entire season of head-to head-games, until Braden Holtby finally gave up a goal to the Bruins.

With the win, Washington improved to 9-3-0 this season, tying the best start in franchise history. The Capitals also registered a 9-3-0 record through 12 games in 1991-92 and 2011-12. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 4 Recap: Backstrom returns with a bang in win over Canes

Guess who’s Back(strom), Back(strom) again

Nicklas Backstrom returned from his hip surgery and rehab to loud applause and much fanfare to face the Carolina Hurricanes, and with an assist on the Caps’ first power play, he wasted no time notching his first point of the season and his 47th against Carolina — more than he has against any other NHL team.

In the end, Backstrom accounted for a goal and two assists as the Washington Capitals downed the Canes 4-1 at Verizon Center to close their homestand with another win.  [Read more…]

Washington Capitals 2015-16 Season Preview: Center

Unlike the wings, the center position is having down-to-the-wire battles. With Nicklas Backstrom out for an expected 4-10 games, the position is still taking shape even as the regular season starts. Although Andre Burakovsky is slated to be the second line center at the beginning of the season, the rest of the lines are still being shifted around.  With one of the most respected centers in the game, one very hot up-and-comer, an overpaid veteran, and Jay Beagle, this is a highly-staffed position that will take a few weeks to be completely set. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 5 Review: Washington moves to brink of second round with 5-1 drubbing of Islanders

With an iron will and tenacity that no opponent could counter, the Washington Capitals strode onto the ice Thursday night with a grand opportunity. A good performance with a result to match would put them on the verge of their first Eastern Conference Semifinal appearance in three seasons.

Down a goal early, they weren’t fazed. Rising to the occasion, five unanswered goals, two from Evgeny Kuznetsov, lit a fire under the Verizon Center faithful and made for a 5-1 win over the New York Islanders in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series. [Read more…]

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