2011-12 Year-End Review: Brooks Laich

Brooks Laich celebrates

Photo credit: Rob Carr

Brooks Laich took his jack-of-all-trades role to a new level this year, spending time on wing, center, and even playing one game on defense when the team was in a tight spot. Perhaps his most memorable moments were the ones that came between play, however — every time Laich was knocked down, he got back up. We’re not using that figuratively, this guy is resilient.

Cap Hit: $4.5 M. Brooks Laich is signed through 2016-17, and will be RFA on expiration of that contract.

Best Moment: Scoring the game-winning goal against the Panthers to send the Caps to the playoffs, after he guaranteed was really confident that the Caps would make it there.

Things We Said About Brooks Laich: “NOT THE FACE.”

Alignment: Lawful Good

First Irrelevant Google Images Result:

Media Consensus: “Scoar moar goals, Brooks!”

Spirit Animal: A battleship.

Or possibly an anteater.

Alternate Universe Superhero Identity: Swiss Army Laich

Team Role: After signing a contract that made him one of the team’s core players, Laich was expected to make a difference on the ice. He was to continue to be a defensively responsible two-way player, play a great deal on special teams, and try to get back to that 20-goal plateau that escaped him in 2010-11.

Execution of that Role: As the team started to thin out down the middle, Laich became the team’s go-to winger-disguised-as-a-center. While Laich will take on any role that’s handed to him with intensity, center is perhaps not his calling — he struggled with faceoffs and goals-against, and scored only 16 goals for the second season in a row. Despite that, Laich was a stabilizing force in a difficult season and provided some of the best morale-boosting moments of the year. He even dropped the gloves once, and actually won.

Laich played all 82 games of the regular season and all 14 of the postseason, even after several scary moments that could have ended his season. Next time a Cap gets injured, we’re just going to give them a transfusion of Brooks Laich’s blood.

Postseason Performance: Laich bought into Hunter’s grinding, shot-blocking style big time, leading the team in blocked shots and scoring twice, tallying seven points throughout the postseason. Though he was visibly crushed at the team’s early exit, he maintained that he was proud of the team for the way that they went out this year.

Beard Rating: 

Somehow rugged and dashing at the same time. We expected no less. Nine out of ten.

Likeliness to Return: Though there are other teams that would love to have him, the Caps proposed to Laich last summer and he accepted. He’s going to be with us for awhile. Eight out of ten.

Usefulness in a Post-Apocalyptic Setting: Brooks Laich is apparently unbreakable, and he could charm any hostile survivors with his handsome face. Multi-purpose survival partner. Eight out of ten.

Other: Someday, Brooks will actually explain what Latisys is in one of these commercials.

Overall Year-End Rating: Six Good Sashas.

For statistical analysis of Brooks Laich’s season, see Japers’ Rink or Peerless Prognosticator.

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  • meowmix

    If Knuble gets 22 good Sashas then damnit Laich deserves 21.

    Laich for captain 2012-2013.

  • lrhflute

    I AGREE WITH BOTH!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

  • chexmix

    Agreed

  • Trailmix

    The Battleship is about right but, 6 Sashas?

  • http://www.facebook.com/dan.stevens.1029 Dan Stevens

    Gives the best interview in the game, but other than that, he’s waaayyy over rated!!

  • golly

    Why are we waiting till someone is injured to give them a Brooksie blood transfusion? Seems like if he started banking it right now, we could give all the Caps some next year at training camp …

  • http://twitter.com/annielockyer Annie Lockyer

    Laich occupies the first three spots on my all-time freebies list. Aaand… [something intelligent about hockey]. Oh, and he should be captain. Ahem.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    CONTROVERSY

  • http://www.facebook.com/dawnpepin Dawn Pepin Greenway

    Worth getting more specific on blocked shots: he led the *league* in blocked shots from forwards.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1005713165 Pat Magee

    One of the most underrated players in the league! Only 6 sashas is a bit of a disappointment, though…

  • http://twitter.com/annielockyer Annie Lockyer

    You and I differ on what makes a best interview. Dude is media trained within an inch of his life to never say anything remotely interesting. I’d rather suffer the occasional Alzner gaffe than listen to Laich’s Variations on a Theme (“we need to work harder/the hard work which we did paid off but must be soon buttressed by more hard work”). And he’s not “waaayyy over rated”. He’s slightly over rated. Waay over rated with one extra ‘a’, at most, which, let’s face it, is a nearly unavoidable side effect of having facial features that symmetrical and pleasing.

  • serpent

    The only thing he hasn’t done yet is take over for Holtby and only because he hasn’t been asked. Heck, the man is a team in his own right! He deserves way more Sashas and the “C” and ,maybe the coaching job.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    I don’t agree about that he never says anything remotely interesting.

    He made a Babe Ruth-style playoff guarantee this season. Two seasons ago, he said got pissed at people (me) saying his team was coasting.

    http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/2010/03/31/brooks-laich-may-be-pissed-off-but-the-capitals-are-coasting/

    He’s a smart and clever guy, a genuinely good interview.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Saying he’s overrated begs two questions: how do you perceive he is rated? and how do you think he’d be more accurately rated?

    I think he’s “rated” as an excellent possession-line winger. He’s great at that role and diminished when forced into other roles.

    I think he’s overpaid, but not by much.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Juuuuuuuuuust so we’re clear…

    You’re saying the incoming head coach– as one of his first actions– should take the captaincy away from the team’s best player, who is under a very long and very expensive contract.

    Am I getting that right?

  • http://twitter.com/annielockyer Annie Lockyer

    Agree that he’s a smart and clever guy, clever enough to keep himself out of trouble most of the time when it comes to the media. But the playoff guarantee was unintentional; I think he didn’t realize how far off script he’d gone until it was blown up into this big thing. Either way, I think he mostly just wants to keep his head down and work (which I admire) and as a result he goes out of his way to give palatable, forgettable interviews (which I think are boring).

  • Dan stevens

    I meant he is lots of bark, and very little bite! On top of being overpaid. I think he’s an average player. Fair hands, average shot, doesn’t skate well, but a decent work ethic. Not worth nearly what he’s paid

  • http://twitter.com/kickxdrumxheart Ana

    I would like everyone to know that I just opened a pack of hockey cards and Brooks Laich was the second card.

    That is all.

  • serpent

    Ovi is good, but not the best.He is over paid, but that’s moot now. And what the heck has money to do with being the right man in the locker room to guide the team?

  • serpent

    I don’t think that a man with as much versatility,stamina and heart as Brooks has is overpaid. He lives and breathes hockey. Any coach can rely on him to give 120% every game,all the time and not make a fool of himself in interviews.When he speaks, he makes sense. And he doesn’t have the ego that some have in lieu of talent and confidence.

  • http://twitter.com/Dara_Laine Dara Goldberg

    First, I love Laich. With that being said, I also think he’s overpaid. However, when you look at the free agency situation last year, it’s not surprising so you can’t really hold that against GMGM too much, in my opinion.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    He is the best player on the Capitals, yes.

    If you strip the C from the player who is gonna eat up a ton of money over the next bunch of years, you’re embarrassing and embittering a franchise player who would be very hard to trade away.

    You can say “who is best” to be captain and all that jive, but to make it happen you’ll have to ruin the Caps’ relationship with Ovi.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Ahh.

    Once someone says “he gives 120%”, I know we can’t a serious discussion.

    Cheers.

  • http://twitter.com/TheRealWheatley Dylan

    in a perfect world backstrom would have the C and semin would still be scoring 30 goals a season.

  • serpent

    I think it’s not who is the best player but the best leader. The man who can relate to everyone, have the maturity,diplomacy and authority to say what needs saying,do what needs doing. Ovi just may be relieved to have the responsibility shifted to another’s shoulders. Igor, Fedor–What would be your take on this from the standpoint of the Russian male ego?

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Yeaaaaaaaaaah. You’re not getting the point.

    If you are advocating someone else being captain, you’re ALSO advocating the taking AWAY of the captaincy from Ovechkin.

    And I’m saying that’d cause irreparable damage to the team’s relationship with its best and most expensive player.

    You’re saying he’d be cool with it. I don’t know why that’s a good assumption.

    That damage would probably outweigh whatever intangible benefit you get from having someone else wear a C instead of an A on his uniform.

  • Dan stevens

    Would hold more weight if people would explain why they dislike , instead of just dislike. #hockeyiq

  • serpent

    So this is pretty much a sensitivity issue? You’d think a man his age would have matured beyond that stage. Maybe the problem is that I’m old enough to be his grandparent and have little patience with adult snits. :>)

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Sensitivity? Wouldn’t getting stripped of his title be a drastic and overt vote of no confidence by his coach?

    I don’t think that would result in a snit fit. I think that would be piss-poor management and the poisoning of a long-term relationship with a very expensive asset.

    It would be monumentally stupid.

  • DougT

    He should get way more than 6 good Sashas. I’ll take 6 good Laichs actually. Leave Semin out of this equation.