Capitals center/left wing Brooks Laich left the ice 10 minutes into training camp on Thursday after tweaking his left hip flexor.
Speaking to reporters about an hour later, Laich said he first suffered the injury while skating at Kettler one week ago but emphasized the injury is “completely unrelated” to the right groin issues that sidelined him for all but nine games last season.
Laich said he had 4½ weeks of “great skating” in Saskatchewan before coming to Arlington and tweaking his left hip flexor Thursday of last week. He said the softer ice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex might have contributed to the injury.
“Something I noticed was that the ice here is a lot softer than the ice I skated on back home,” he said.
Laich, 30, stayed off the ice from Friday through Monday, skated without pain on Tuesday and underwent “aggressive acupuncture” on Wednesday, which could have contributed to some of the pain he experienced Thursday.
“The other thing I went through last year is 100 percent,” he said. “I have no inhibition or fear. I have full power, full flexibility, stride, everything. This is just a little tweak.”
Laich admitted he was “miserable” last season, trying to find ways to get into the lineup and stay there.
“The physical pain off the ice, daily living, rolling over I bed, getting out of a chair, getting in and out of your vehicle were nightmares,” he said. “That takes a huge toll on you.”
Laich said the key to recovering from this latest setback – patience -- is something he admits he’s not very good at.
“I’m really learning that leasson,” he said.
Capitals defenseman Mike Green went through similar groin issues in two of the past three season, missing 83 games in 2010-11 and 2011-12. He said one groin injury can often lead to another and he’s already talked with Laich about the patience required to come back to full strength.
“Brooks is a stubborn … bee,” Green said. “He’s in his own world. But it doesn’t hurt as a teammate to go up and maybe ask a question. Maybe I can give him some information he didn’t think about.
“I know he loves to be out there. But at the same time you have to do the right thing and prepare yourself so that you’re 100 percent for the start of the season.”
Laich is slotted to play left wing on a second line with center Mikhail Grabovski, who remains in Toronto with visa issues, and right wing Troy Brouwer. He said he didn’t pay much attention to George McPhee assertion earlier in the summer about him playing second-line center.
“I saw that article and threw it on my fridge,” he said. “I’ve kind of learned my role here is that I might be on the left side, I might be on the right side, I might be on defense. If they wanted me to play center I’ll play center and if they want me to play wing I’ll play wing. I’m sure I’ll end up playing both.