Photo: Patrick McDermott
The tribute video was just over a minute long, but the ovation seemed endless. Brooks Laich’s teammates past and present stood and banged their sticks on the boards in recognition of his devoted service to the Washington Capitals and the game of hockey.
It began when he joined a last place team in February 2004 — Alex Ovechkin wouldn’t play his first game in Washington for another 20 months — and ended when he left in February 2016, with the Caps smashing NHL records with their eye on their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Laich’s trade to the Toronto Maple Leafs was billed as a salary dump, but it was one that left Washington’s general manager on the verge of tears. After Bruce Boudreau, Alex Semin, George McPhee, and Mike Green departed, Laich was one of the last of the Rock the Red, run-and-gun core that made hockey relevant in this town again.
“I wish the guys good luck,” Laich said when asked what he said the his former teammates during the tribute. “I looked down the bench and wished the guys good luck.”
He’s still wearing a mouth guard wwith the Caps logo on it.
Wednesday night, Brooks Laich made his grand return to Washington, three days after being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs. As has been customary for long-time players, the Caps aired a tribute video during the first TV timeout.
Photo: Claus Andersen
Ex-Cap but forever-honorary-Washingtonian Brooks Laich was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs late Sunday night. Since then, it has been a whirlwind for Laich, playing in his first Leafs game the next day.
Tuesday, Laich took to Instagram to thank Capitals fans for all their support. It was classy.
Photo: Marianne Helm
Early Sunday morning, Brooks Laich was dealt to the Toronto Maple Leafs in what was essentially a salary cap dump. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin typed a particularly sweet message to Laich on Instagram immediately after the trade was announced.
“Me and u was together since my 1st year,” Ovechkin wrote. “We make this team together! Im gonna miss u bro good luck to u!!! Gonna miss u!!!”
Since then, Laich flew to Toronto and made his debut Monday night in the Leafs 2-1 loss to the Lightning. Afterwards, Laich said he still had mixed emotions about the trade. “My heart was really there [in DC],” he admitted.
Wednesday night, in a cruel twist, Laich will be forced to revisit his feelings of the deal when Toronto plays the Capitals in Washington.
Ovechkin admitted how weird the situation will be after the Caps’ morning skate, Tuesday.
Photo: Claus Andersen
Twenty-four hours after getting traded, former Capitals Brooks Laich and Connor Carrick made their debuts for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Laich, wearing number 23 (weird), had a shot and a hit in 12:27 of ice. Carrick, wearing number 8 (bold), had three hits in 19:13 TOI (fourth most on the team). Carrick also fought J.T. Brown in his second NHL bout. The Leafs fell to the Lightning 2-1, but they outshot Tampa 32-28.
After the game, Laich admitted that “there’s certain times where a little wave of emotion comes” when he thinks about his 12-year career with the Caps being over.
This time we’re doing it a little bit different. Brooks Laich’s trade hit RMNB reader Sean Morrow especially hard last night. So he stayed up until the wee hours of the morning to make this video for Brooks.
It’s set to literally the perfect song. Take it away, Sean.
Photo: Claus Andersen
At around 10:45 pm Daniel Winnik received a call that “shocked” him: he was traded from the from the Toronto Maple Leafs to the first place Washington Capitals. Within a half hour, Caps fans had the a similar reaction when they heard of the transaction. Brooks Laich, DC’s longest tenured athlete, who had played all but one game of his 743 game NHL career with the Capitals, was going the other way. Because of his loyalty to the organization, Laich was making $4.5 to skate on the fourth line. He had scored just one goal so far this season. And the Capitals made a decision to help their hockey team.
“I was a part of scouting him in the beginning, so it’s hard,” Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan, who said the 32 year old’s contract was “weighing us down” in terms of what the Capitals could do this offseason, said. “It’s frustrating, but we had to do what‘s necessary to keep the organization, keep the team going forward here.”
For twelve seasons, Brooks Laich was an important part of the Washington Capitals. Traded for one of the franchise’s then-greatest player (Peter Bondra), Laich managed to carve a niche for himself through hard work. He also was a gentleman to every Caps fan he came across. There were no exceptions.
A few years ago, Laich gave me one of my favorite memories while doing this site (besides him talking about his time playing lockout hockey in Switzerland). I went to Orioles Park at Camden Yards with Chris Gordon to cover Laich’s ceremonial first pitch. Laich was named after hall of fame third baseman Brooks Robinson and the Orioles organization wanted to honor him. Somehow, he and Ben Guerrero (former Caps PR) knew I was a huge fan of the team, so they allowed us to go along on part of Laich’s private tour of the Orioles clubhouse. Because of this, for about a minute I was rubbing elbows with Chris Davis and Adam Jones and walking wide-eyed through the Orioles’ weight room. It meant a lot to me.
Laich didn’t have to do that, but that’s just who he was: a guy who would take that extra moment to make you feel special. Last night, just as a cathartic exercise, I asked readers to tweet us their moments with Laich over the years. The response was staggering. It really gives you an idea of how many people he inspired over the years. He will be missed.
This just in from @TradedNHLPlayer. Here’s Toronto Maple Leafs forward Brooks Laich in his new Toronto Maple Leafs jersey. Laich was traded along with Connor Carrick for Daniel Winnik.
This is SO weird. I will never get used to this.
The Washington Capitals just made a huge deal. The Caps have traded Brooks Laich (DC’s longest tenured athlete), prospect defenseman Connor Carrick, and a second-round pick to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Daniel Winnik and a fifth-round pick.
“Daniel is a versatile player who plays with grit and can be used in all situations,” general manager Brian MacLellan said. “This move enables us to add some depth to our forward group and balances our lineup. We would like to thank Brooks for all of his contributions to our organization over the past 10 years. Brooks is a true professional and we wish him all the best in the future.”
Winnick, a 30-year-old right wing, has a season remaining on a two-year, $4.5 million contract he signed over the offseason. According to Bob McKenzie, the Caps gain $2.2 million in cap space by shedding Laich.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.