ARLINGTON, Va. -- Brooks Laich is so highly regarded in the Washington Capitals' dressing room that even the team captain and face of the franchise doesn't hesitate or stutter when referring to him as "our leader."
"Off the ice and on the ice," Alex Ovechkin continued. "We need him badly."
The Capitals had him for about 10 minutes Thursday morning before Laich gave the team its first "uh-oh" moment of the season. He walked off the ice and did not return because of pain he felt in his left hip flexor.
Laich missed all but nine games last season with a nagging groin injury that eventually required surgery and forced him to also miss the Capitals' seven-game run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. To see him go off with another injury after barely breaking a sweat in training camp was difficult to watch and somewhat emotional to the guys who know what he went through last season.