Laich dodges talk of missing Caps opener

Laich dodges talk of missing Caps opener
January 13, 2013, 3:45 pm
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Caps glad to be back at camp

If the “lower body” injury that kept Brooks Laich out of Sunday’s opening day of training camp is severe enough to sideline him for the first two weeks of the Capitals’ season, he’s not about to admit it.

According to a report from TSN hockey analyst Bob McKenzie, Laich’s injury, believed to be a groin or adductor tear, could keep him out of the first week or two of the regular season, which begins Saturday night in Tampa against the Lightning.

“Has Bob McKenzie spoken to me?” Laich asked after skating on his own Sunday morning. “I’m waking up each day very hopeful. I can’t expand any on that. Obviously, there’s a lot of excitement here today and it’s disappointing not to be on the ice.”

Asked if he passed the team’s physical Saturday night, Laich declined to comment, calling it “internal matters.”

“I’m hopeful to be back on the ice with these guys very soon, that’s about all I’ll say,” Laich said.

Because Laich suffered the injury while playing for the Kloten Flyers of the Swiss League, the Capitals are not obligated to pay him until he passes a physical. General manager George McPhee said there is still paperwork he must review regarding “transition rules” for injured players but made it clear Laich could continue to use the team’s facilities during his rehab.

“He’s not quite ready to go,” McPhee said. “We’re going to do this right and make sure he’s 100 percent before we get him out there. There are some injuries that you can play through if it’s not going to make it worse, but if it’s an injury that will get worse by playing, then we’ve got to be careful.”

If Laich is dealing with an injury similar to the sports hernias suffered by Mike Green and Joel Ward last season, he might have to weigh the option of having surgery that could sideline him four to six weeks or trying to play with the pain and limited mobility caused by such an injury.

Laich has a reputation for playing with injuries that have sidelined other players. In his past five seasons with the Caps he has missed just four games and has played all 82 games in four of those seasons.

“Should I be more level-headed than I have been in the past?” he asked. “The answer is yes. But it’s hard when your brain doesn’t really work like that As a competitor all you think about is the competition. You don’t think about taking it easy now. It sort of takes outside influence from other people to remind you of certain things.”

Laich, who managed 16 goals and 25 assists last season, was expected to see time on a second line with newcomer Mike Ribeiro and Troy Brouwer. Without him, Wojtek Wolski took that spot on Sunday.

In other injury news, defenseman Tom Poti, 35, passed his physical and was placed on a two-week conditioning assignment with the Hershey Bears as he tries to return from a broken pelvis that has sidelined him for two years. Poti was expected to be in the lineup for the Bears Sunday night.

“We’ll just monitor how that goes,” McPhee said. “To throw him into an NHL game, he might not be ready for that.”

McPhee called Poti a “longshot” to make the team last week and was not backing down from that prediction.

“We’ll know more after he plays [in Hershey],” McPhee said. “When you’re staring the end of your career in the face it can be a difficult thing for every athlete to contemplate. I hope it works out for him because it would be good for us.”