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.
The longest tenured athlete in Washington has just been waived. Announced by Bob McKenzie, Caps forward Brooks Laich has been placed on waivers.
Laich (WSH), Porter (MIN), Talbot (BOS) on waivers.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) February 27, 2016
Laich’s contract ($4.5m against the salary cap) is the primary obstacle in Brian MacLellan’s path to making trade deadline improvements. If Laich could not be traded, this is the next best option.
Thursday night, Carrie Underwood’s The Storyteller Tour made a pit stop at Verizon Center, where she performed in front of what the Washington Post described a “giddy” and “overwhelmingly female audience.” Also there: Capitals forwards Brooks Laich and TJ Oshie.
Laich, who was accompanied by his fiancee Julianne Hough, and Oshie, who was joined by his wife Lauren, met Underwood (wife of Predators center Mike Fisher) backstage after the show. Hough published a photo of the meeting Friday.
Brooks Laich has a penchant for being generous after losses. Back in 2010, Laich changed a flat tire for two Caps fans who were stranded on the side of the road. He did this despite a devastating game seven loss to the Canadiens, which ended the Caps’ President Trophy-winning season early.
Wednesday night following another loss to the Habs, Laich and his fiancée Julianne Hough stopped by Don Tito, a popular establishment in Clarendon among Caps players. The couple was served by Rian Hannah Hopcroft.
Photo: Monumental Network
As I touched on in the Sunday Snapshot, Brooks Laich is ice cold in 2015-16. With just one goal and five assists in 53 games, Laich’s $4.5-million cap hit becomes even more disastrous than it already was.
“I don’t think he is much of a hockey player anymore unfortunately,” one RMNB commenter said. Others, whom I will not excerpt here, were far less diplomatic.
While there is no plausible justification for his contract, which was authored by former GM George McPhee, I’d argue that Laich’s current season has been a solid one, his god-awful scoring luck excepted.
What follows is my hot-take defense of Brooks Laich’s 2015-16. Bring your pitchforks.
Yesterday, we posted a video from Julianne Hough that showed her fiancé, Capitals forward Brooks Laich, singing an elaborate greeting. “Hello, beautiful,” Laich sang. “Good morning, good morning, my love. Good morning, my girl. Good morning, my fiancée. Good morning, beautiful.”
“If that doesn’t put a smile on your face…,” Hough captioned the video, with a heart-eyes emoji. Oh, it did, Julianne. It definitely did. And apparently, it gave a smile and then some for one our our more technology-savvy RMNB readers.
The youngest Caps player is not so young anymore. Andre Burakovsky turns 21 today, and even though he still has to wait another four years to rent a car, he can now drink legally in the States, which is really all that matters to a 21-year-old guy, right?
But wait! Isn’t Burkie Swedish? Didn’t he celebrate his most important birthday three years ago when he could legally purchase alcohol in Sweden? Is this basically his 18th birthday all over again? Why, yes, it is. He’s even retained the look of an 18 year old just for the authenticity of it all.
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