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While last playing an NHL game during the 2017-18 season, former Washington Capitals forward Brooks Laich formally announced his retirement from professional hockey today, ending an NHL career that spanned parts of 13 seasons.
The 38-year old former sixth-round pick of the Ottawa Senators officially called it quits in a post to Instagram on June, thanking many people while saying, “There comes a time in every athlete’s life where we must let go of what was, so we can fully step into what will be”.
Laich spent over a decade within the Capitals organization, being acquired by the team during their rebuild in the early 2000’s in a trade that saw franchise great and fan favorite Peter Bondra head to Ottawa. Laich would spent time in the American Hockey League, helping the Caps’ AHL affiliate Hershey Bears to a Calder Cup championship in 2006, before being recalled to the NHL roster, where he eventually established himself as a key component in the team’s return to contention during the famed “Young Guns” era.
Laich would prove to be a versatile forward, contributing with a well-rounded game that also saw his offensive game flourish, recording a career-high 24 goals and 58 points during the Capitals’ President’s Trophy-winning 2009-10 season, and recording a combined 201 points (80 goals, 121 assists) in 324 Games Played from 2008-2012. However, an injury suffered during overseas play prior to the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season would see Laich struggle to return to prior form, and his offensive production drop precipitously, after signing a six-year, $27 million contract during the 2011 offseason, an average annual value of $4.5 million.
With other players establishing themselves within the lineup, Laich found himself bounced around the bottom-six, and over the course of the subsequent seasons, his cap hit became a burden on the team’s ability to make other moves. On February 28, 2016, shortly before the NHL Trade Deadline, the Caps traded Laich, defensive prospect Connor Carrick, and a second-round draft pick to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for forward Daniel Winnik and a fifth-round pick. Upon Laich’s return to Washington, the team paid tribute during the game (a moment he called the “most humbling moment” of his NHL career).
Laich would play just 21 games with the Maple Leafs, recording seven points, with a minus-six rating, before being placed on waivers that October. He would spend time with the team’s AHL affiliate Toronto Marlies before being placed on waivers again after voicing his desire to seek a Stanley Cup championship elsewhere. Laich would not see any interest from an NHL team until signed to a Professional Tryout Offer with the Los Angeles Kings in training camp of 2017. While unsigned prior to the start of the season, injuries to their lineup saw Los Angeles give Laich a one-year, $650,000 deal. In 12 Games Played, Laich recorded one assist, before his contract was terminated.
Laich played parts of 13 NHL seasons (most with the Capitals), during which time he recorded 332 (134 Goals, 198 Assists) Points in 776 Games Played, with a minus-19 rating. In 742 Games Played with the Capitals, Laich recorded 133 Goals, 191 Assists, and 324 Points. He currently ranks 10th in franchise history in Games Played, seventh in Shorthanded Goals (10), and 10th in Shots (1,423).
By Michael Fleetwood