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What's Up Magazine

Back Talk: Brooks Laich

Feb 21, 2012 12:30AM ● By Anonymous
With Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green, and Nicklas Backstrom, the Washington Capitals aren’t lacking star power. Brooks Laich isn’t a marquee name, but he is just about as valuable as any Capital.

Washington named Ovechkin captain in January of 2010, but only after giving Laich strong consideration. The 28-year-old Laich has grown into a versatile role player. He moved to center full-time this season after playing mostly on the wing in recent seasons. Laich, a Saskatchewan native, also plays important roles on the Capitals power play and penalty kill.

How highly do the Capitals value Laich? Washington gave him a six-year, $27 million deal over the summer to prevent him from becoming one of the most sought-after free agents. Laich came into the season tied with Ovechkin for the most games played by an active Capital with 475.

Did you feel Washington was the best place for you to win a Stanley Cup?
I am 28 years old right now. I was looking for a long-term contract. So you say these are probably going to be the most important years of your career and when I retire what is going to be the most important thing? I want to give myself the best chance to win a Stanley Cup. You sit back, look at our team and look at where we are going. Where is it going to be any better? I think it’s here.

Does the new contract get you to play better?
I have never played for the money. I have found paychecks I haven’t cashed in my truck [while playing in the minors for the Hershey Bears]. That happened one time in Washington. I got a paycheck, we went on the road, and I didn’t want to take it with me. I put it in my glove compartment and I got sent to Hershey for the playoffs. I was going to Blockbuster Video during the Calder Cup Finals. I was looking for my Blockbuster card and there was a paycheck. I have never played for the money. It’s never been about that. It’s a nice reward. It’s not going to make me work any harder. The reward [will be] the Stanley Cup.

How do you view your role as a leader on the Capitals?
I don’t try to be a leader and do this or that. People just go about their business and they have a role on the hockey team. Myself, I just try to come and work as hard as I can each day. That’s about it. I don’t think people who are leaders have to go out of their way. Nobody is asking Alex to try to be a leader. I just think somebody does it and their character is revealed.

Are you more comfortable playing center than on the wing because you player center earlier in your career?
It doesn’t matter now. Either or is the same. You have different responsibilities when you play different positions, but I am comfortable with either.

How would you describe your style of play?
I play two-way hockey. I try and produce offense, but at the same time I want to be reliable defensively and not give the opposition any chance to score. You have to be responsible defensively when you player center, but that doesn’t mean as a winger you are any less responsible. As a center, you are expected to be the first guy back in your own zone and help out. You are kind of an assistant to everybody on the ice.

What causes do you believe in and how did you get involved in them?
I am interested in things to do with multiple sclerosis. When I was back in Edmonton, my friend came to watch me play and she had MS. I have talked to the MS society here in D.C. and speaking to her and some of the things she is doing back in Saskatchewan, there is a growing interest in MS. I am also getting involved with Mike Green’s charity. They do some great work and I would like to be involved with that one as well.

What do you do for fun in the offseason?
I fish, golf, and work out a lot. I like take it easy. I don’t leave home very much at all. I go on vacation when the season ends, but I don’t like to leave Saskatchewan too much after that. I don’t take any specific vacation. Whatever, I feel like.

You changed a tire of a women’s car, who was an avid Caps fan, after the Game 7 playoff loss to Montreal in 2010. Can you tell the story?
It was just a lady who needed some help. I was able to help. I thought my tire-changing experience would outweigh hers. That was it. I was able to help her out. It was on the Roosevelt Bridge. Anyone who has a flat tire is excited to see someone come help.