Washington Capitals forward Brooks Laich is inching closer to making his season debut.
Laich took part in Washington’s morning skate at Kettler Capitals Iceplex ahead of Tuesday’s game against Toronto, and Coach Adam Oates was encouraged by his progress. The 29-year-old has yet to appear in a game this year after suffering a groin injury while playing in Switzerland during the NHL lockout.
“He said he felt a lot better,” Oates said. “He looks a lot better and it’s one of those situations I’ve got to trust the trainers and doctors. So in terms of evaluation and how soon, I don’t know. Sometimes it might linger. Sometimes it might just go to that next level and feel great.”
When approached by reporters after practice, Laich declined to discuss his injury. He only began skating with the team last week in Toronto, and Oates said Tuesday Laich is “real close” to taking part in a full contact practice.
“I can only speak from experience where I had a couple groin injuries,” Oates said. “You feel like it’s lingering and then all of a sudden one day you feel like, ‘Wow, it got much better,’” Oates said.
Laich had 16 goals and 41 points a year ago and Oates named him one of Washington’s alternate captains for this season.
“He’s dying,” Oates said. “Nobody wants to miss time and it’s the start of the year and he’s a big part of our team, and we miss him.”