Opinion Piece: Laich It Or Not, Here Comes Brooks

Posted on June 03, 2014 by Adam Stringham

Poll From Japers' Rink

Photo Credit: Japers' Rink

Per CSN's Chuck Gormley: Capitals' Assistant GM Don Fishman has confirmed the sentiments hinted by new General Manager Brian MacLellan last week, Brooks Laich is not going to be the recipient of the Capitals’' final compliance buyout.

Opinions on Brooks Laich differ, but they are definitely less positive than they were just a few years ago. Over the last two seasons Brooks Laich has missed lots of games, and he has been ineffective when he has been healthy enough to make it into the lineup. 

Season

Team

Lge

GP

G

A

Pts

PIM

+/-

2007-08

Washington Capitals

NHL

82

21

16

37

35

-3

2008-09

Washington Capitals

NHL

82

23

30

53

31

-1

2009-10

Washington Capitals

NHL

78

25

34

59

34

16

2010-11

Washington Capitals

NHL

82

16

32

48

46

14

2011-12

Washington Capitals

NHL

82

16

25

41

34

-8

2012-13

Washington Capitals

NHL

9

1

3

4

6

2

2013-14

Washington Capitals

NHL

51

8

7

15

16

-7

To me part of the problem with Brooks Laich is that he has forgotten where he fits into the Capitals' lineup. Laich was once lauded for his ability to play any position on the bottom three lines, if I recall correctly they even gave him a go as a defensemen. Laich thrived as the teams go to guy. 

The 2012-2013 campaign can be written off for Laich due to his injury sustained while in Switzerland; but the Capitals were way off the mark when they proclaimed that Brooks Laich would be able to center the Capitals second line during the 13-14 season. Laich does not have (and never did) have the skills necessary to center a second line night in and night out. It is possible the current incarnation of Brooks Laich was created by the abhorrent coaching of Adam Oates and Dale Hunter, but it is hard to tell. Oates' certainly didn't do Laich any favors when he placed him on a line with Troy Brouwer. 

Brooks Laich and Troy Brouwer During 5v5 Play

On Laich and Brouwer: When the Capitals traded for Brouwer I believed he was going to replace Laich, who was scheduled to become a free agent just a few days after Brouwer's acquisition. I was wrong, the Capitals gave Laich a 6 year 26 million dollar contract with a 4.5 million dollar cap hit. Troy Brouwer plays a style of game very similar to the one of Brooks Laich, both require strong players around them creating opportunities, so it is not a surprise that the two don't play particularly well together.

"Brouwer was Laich's most frequent linemate this season, with 54.2% of Laich's ice time taken with #20 on the ice - which resulted in a CF% of 47.7%, compared to 51.3% away from Brouwer. How bad is that? "Consider that in nine seasons with the Caps, Laich has skated with 25 forwards for a total of at least 100 minutes... and his CF% has only been worse with two of them, Mike Knuble (46.8% over 580:33) and Marcus Johansson (45% in 523:44)" - Becca H. From Japers' Rink 

Perhaps it is time that Laich spends less time talking to the media and more time fixing his game (more on that below). Laich's cap hit is way too high for him to be playing at the level that we saw from him last year. I asked Saam Bozorgmehr and Cliff Ngwafon, two of Talk the Red's Co-Hosts, their opinions on Brooks Laich. This is what they had to say:

"I think Laich is a fraud. I think we (the media) perceive him as the "real leader" of this team because of his willingness to be vocal and expressive to the media. Laich has missed 72 games over the last few seasons and yet he still feels like it's his place to tell the media what problems this team has. I remember going to breakdown day, and while he was talking to the media 6 different players came did their interviews and left. He was still yapping away. Talking about "it's time we stop making excuses for ourselves." I remember specifically one quote..."This is the NHL, no one should have to babysit you here to do your job." He was obviously referring to Ovechkin. If you've missed 72 games over the last 2 seasons, you need to shut your **** mouth. Don't tell me how the team is doing because you're not there to contribute. Don't speak on someone else's behalf. I guarantee no one likes Brooks Laich because, as Cliff pointed out to me, no one in the locker room praises him. The media only praises him because he’'s a good interview. He could've had surgery at the beginning of the year to help get back on the ice, and instead he played hurt and hurt his team’'s chances. He obviously waited until a specific time to get surgery because he knew that they [the Capitals] couldn't amnesty him when he's on the disabled list. I personally think Brooks Laich is a nice guy but a horrible teammate. Imagine if Brian Roberts (longtime Orioles player who missed 456 games over the last 4 years due to injury) went out and said **** like that when the Orioles didn't do well. I'm just saying Laich needs to shut his mouth".  Saam Bozorgmehr Co-Host of Talk the Red

"I thought it was interesting that he waited until after the Olympic break to opt for surgery. Obviously I'm not a doctor but the timing seemed odd. I'm a cynic by nature so I just assume he waited in order to avoid a buyout. The media likes him for the obvious reasons He's very outspoken and honest which plays well with the media. I do wonder how that plays in the room when a guy who is never on the ice seems to always be in the papers talking about how the team needs to play." Cliff Ngwafon Co-Host of Talk the Red

There are a lot of opinions out there in regards to Laich, but almost all of them expect better play and less talk.

Follow Me on Twitter: @TalkTheRed @Stringhama

Special Thanks To: Cliff, Saam, Jon Press, Andy Hom, and Derek Norin . 

Posted in: Washington Capitals
next up:

Behind The Words

May 29, 2014

What Should We Expect From Brian MacLellan?

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