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After Years of Intense Pain, Brooks Laich Says Best Years Still Ahead

by Chris 'Blue Shorts' Lingebach
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Brooks Laich #21 of the Washington Capitals celebrates his first-period, shorthanded goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the game at Consol Energy Center on January 15, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Credit: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Brooks Laich #21 of the Washington Capitals celebrates his first-period, shorthanded goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the game at Consol Energy Center on January 15, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Credit: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC) - Brooks Laich has known for a while he’d have to have surgery to repair a tight adductor, he told the Junkies on Wednesday.

Despite the 4 to 6 week timeline the Capitals laid out for his recovery on Monday, Laich does say he’s already beginning to feel normal again, and free from pain.

“This morning I’m walking around just like normal,” Laich said on 106.7 The Fan. “I probably couldn’t have hoped to be in any better position right now, post-op, and that sort of thing, so I’ve known for awhile that it was gonna happen; I was just trying to make it through as many games as I could before we got to the date.”

There’s a difference between playing through pain and playing through soreness, the former of which Laich explained he’s been playing through for much of the season.

“My year’s kind of been categorized in two different areas,” he said. “There’s been games that I’ve played in soreness, and games that I’ve played in pain. In actual pain, probably thirty games — twenty-five, thirty — like, especially at the end here.

“The last games I was playing, we were talking about it shift by shift. Like, ‘Can you go another one? Can you give us another period?’ And then that game would end, and we’d talk, like, ‘Can you just get through one more for us?'”

“At the start of the year, I was in a little bit of soreness,” Laich began to chronicle when his injury resurfaced. “I still wasn’t comfortable, but I was like okay, I went through a little  bit of procedure last year, maybe I just got to get used to a little bit of discomfort, but then the pain starting coming back by the end November.”

Sept. 25: Laich ‘Sick and Tired’ of Talking About Injury

“It’s really been tough guys,” Laich said of playing through pain. “It’s really difficult when 90 percent of your energy is spent on just trying to get through this shift. It leaves you ten percent of you energy to focus on the opposition, or the position you have to be in, or your line mates, or what you can do to help, or you game in total.”

The pain was so severe towards the end, it began affecting his sleep habits and was noticeable from the moment he awoke each morning.

“Getting out of bed and being able to stand up straight instantly was something I haven’t been able to do for 3, 4 weeks,” Laich said.

After surgery, Laich describes more of a soreness, rather than pain, which has led him to feeling like he’s been set free, almost.

“The type of pain which has plagued me for a year and a half — just taking a step from my right foot to my left foot — I mean, I had pain every step that I took, every day I walked, and right now I don’t have that,” Laich said.

Asked if he ever worried the severity and nagging nature of his injury caused him to ponder retirement, Laich tread lightly at first, then began to reflect on the enjoyment the little nuances of the game of hockey bring him, and how his injury has disrupted that in the last year.

“You’re certainly concerned about your career,” he said. “Especially for me, I mean skating is my favorite fundamental aspect of the game. It really is. I love to skate, I love stepping on the ice and skating. It’s a little moment for me, when we’d practice or the game when you step on the ice for the first time and take the first couple of strides.

“And every day for the last year and a half I’ve done it, those first couple strides have been really tender, and really hesitant, and that’s such a sickening feeling, because I didn’t know how my body was going to feel.”

“One thing I’m certain of: the best years of my hockey career are ahead of me still,” Laich asserted.

“There’s no doubt in my mind, the best years of my hockey career are ahead of me still,” he reiterated. “And I know a lot of people might say, ‘Oh, they’re probably behind you — you’re thirty-years-old now.’ I still have a lot of hockey left in me. There’s no doubt about it.”

As for the 2013-14 season, Laich said, “My season is definitely not over. Whether I’ll make it back for regular season or not remains to be seen, but there’s no way that I’m on vacation. I’m still in hockey mode trying to get back.”

Listen to the full interview in the audio clip above.

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