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Brooks Laich: 'Change is part of life'


Brooks Laich: 'Change is part of life'

Whether it was changing a fan’s tire on the way home from a Game 7 loss to the Montreal Canadiens in 2010 or leaving a $100 tip for a pregnant waitress last week, Brooks Laich left his mark on the Washington Capitals and their fan base.

Today, 12 years after arriving in Washington, Laich, 32, is preparing for his new life as a Toronto Maple Leaf.

Late Sunday night Laich learned he had been dealt to the Maple Leafs, along with defensive prospect Connor Carrick and a second-round draft pick in 2016, for forward Daniel Winnik and Toronto’s  fifth-round pick in 2016.   

Last week I had a chance to ask Laich about that 2004 trade that brought him to Washington for Peter Bondra.

“I see it clear as day,” Laich said. “John Paddock called me into his office. It was during a morning skate. I had half my equipment on and walked down to his office and he said he can’t let me go on the ice because I was about to be traded. It was going to be to Washington and it was going to be for Peter Bondra.

“It was like, I didn’t know what to think, you know? I really enjoyed playing for John and I didn’t want to leave. But on the other side, I was excited for a good opportunity to be on a young, rebuilding team and to try to make the NHL.


“It worked out great for me but it’s always difficult. You kind of brand yourself with an organization and then when you are traded it’s very difficult because you have good friends and you’re part of the community.

“The flip side of that is that you’re going somewhere where they asked for you. They wanted you. They sought you out. So you’re going somewhere where you’re welcomed. It’s a new opportunity. Change is part of life. So … I don’t know. I’ve been through it before but hopefully I don’t have to go through it.”

Laich spent Monday morning traveling to Toronto and Leafs coach Mike Babcock said he anticipates Laich will play tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"A real good man, a real good person," Babcock said when asked about Laich. "Obviously, he's in the last year coming up on his deal. I know he treats people real well and he'll be a good guy to be around our kids."

Since James van Riemsdyk wears No. 21 Laich will wear No. 23.  The Leafs visit Verizon Center on Wednesday in what should be an emotion return to the city Laich called home for a dozen years.       

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Capitals are shaking up the coaching staff in Hershey

The Hershey Bears

Capitals are shaking up the coaching staff in Hershey

The contracts of Hershey Bears head coach Troy Mann and Bears assistant coach Ryan Murphy will not be renewed for next season, the Capitals announced Wednesday. Hershey finished in last place in the Atlantic Division and did not qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2014.

“Troy is a dedicated and hard-working coach and we appreciate all he has done for the Hershey Bears,” said Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan. “At this point, we feel a fresh approach and a change in leadership is needed in order for us to continue to develop our young players towards the next level and for success at the AHL level. We also want to thank Ryan for his contributions to the Hershey Bears and wish him all the best.”

Just two seasons ago, the Bears under Mann were playing the Calder Cup Finals where they lost in four games to the Lake Erie Monsters. Mann served as an assistant coach for Hershey from 2009-2013 and was hired as the head coach in 2014. He led the Bears to a record of 162-102-22-18 during his tenure, good for sixth all-time among Hershey coaches in wins.

Mann coached several current Capitals players in Hershey including Travis Boyd, Chandler Stephenson, Jakub Vrana, Madison Bowey, Christian Djoos and Philipp Grubauer, among others. Hershey also currently boasts several of the Caps' biggest prospects such as Lucas Johansen, Connor Hobbs, Riley Barber and Jonas Siegenthaler.

Murphy was with the Bears for all four years of Mann's tenure. He started in video development in Mann's first season and was promoted to assistant coach the following year.

“We’d like to thank Troy Mann and Ryan Murphy for their contributions to the Hershey Bears organization,” said Hershey vice president of hockey operations, Bryan Helmer. “While we are looking to move our hockey club forward, today is certainly an emotional day. I had the pleasure of working with both Troy and Ryan behind the bench for two seasons, and consider them to be great people. We wish both all the best in future endeavors.”

Coaching in the AHL is a tough job as coaches are expected to bring the team success while also developing their NHL club's prospects. There are times when the two goals do not necessarily line up which can make it a difficult balance.

Considering how important it is to develop talent from within, AHL coaches are very significant parts of an organization. Getting the right guy in charge of Hershey won't just boost the AHL team, but will help the Caps down the line with developed players.


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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: And so we meet again

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: And so we meet again

We all knew this was coming, right?

The Capitals will face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the playoffs for the third consecutive season and for the 11th time in franchise history. Washington has only beaten Pittsburgh once in their previous 10 series. This season gives them the opportunity to get over the second round and Pittsburgh hump once and for all.

Will this year be different? Will the Caps finally take down their arch nemesis? Will they finally advance to the conference final?

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir break down the Caps-Penguins matchup in the Capitals Faceoff Podcast.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page