Brooks Laich just accomplished a pretty impressive piece of trivia with the Toronto Maple Leafs. On April 5, 2009, Laich assisted on Michael Nylander’s final NHL goal in the Caps’ 6-4 win over the Atlanta Thrashers. Tonight, 2,497 days later, Laich assisted on William Nylander’s first NHL goal. William is Michael’s 19-year-old son.
Michael and William Nylander. (Photo credit: Scanpix)
Michael Nylander appeared in only parts of four seasons with the Washington Capitals, but he’s remembered by fans both for his play and the way he left the organization. The talented Swedish center played on the early 2000’s Capitals teams with Peter Bondra, Olie Kolzig, and Jaromir Jagr. He also helped mentor Nicklas Backstrom in a second tour with the team from 2007-2009.
But after signing a four-year $19.5 million contract to be the top center of the Caps in 2007, Nyles tore his rotator cuff and was never the same. With the Capitals near the top of the salary cap and Nylander unhappy with his role, they loaned the Swede to the Detroit Red Wings organization in 2009-10 (who then assigned him to the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL) and then to the Florida Panthers during the last year of his contract in 2010-11 (who later assigned him to Rochester). Nylander, who broke his neck 7 games into his stint with the Americans, then continued his career in Europe the next season in the Swiss National League A.
Since then, the 40-year-old Nylander has returned to his native home of Sweden to finish his career in the second-tier HockeyAllsvenskan. And for a good reason.