Brooks Laich’s Summer Chill

For a certain type of personality, brooding too much over a loss is just as counterproductive as taking it too lightly.

Brooks Laich, courtesy of Cheryl Nichols of Caps News Network

Brooks Laich perhaps  found that out the hard way this year, and he’s considering fixing the problem this summer by doing something that most people don’t think twice about: taking a vacation.

“I think this summer, I might step away from hockey a little bit, for three, four weeks,” Laich said at Capitals’ break-up day, admitting, however, that it would be hard for him. “Maybe take a vacation and try and let some of this go—not  forget about it, but let some of it go so I can have a fresh start next year.”

A decision that once may have seemed unthinkable to him — that he could love hockey as much as anyone else, yet not think about it 24/7 — is now one that shows  just how much Laich has matured this year. Reliably amiable, he came in to last season with an attitude that earned him the nickname “Grumpy.” He talked about at one point in this year’s playoffs having difficulty sleeping because of frustration with his performance.

But, Laich realizes now, he was carrying baggage over from last year: a bitter first round exit to Montreal that he never let go of. His physical conditioning didn’t suffer, Laich said, but he never gave himself a mental break.

“When the season ended last year, I went and played in the World Championships, and right from that, I came home, went right to the gym, because I was frustrated, and I wanted to start preparing for the next season,” the Capitals’ versatile forward said. “But I think that in the long run that hurt me. I think I might have pushed it a little too hard . . . I never gave myself a break. I never separated one season from the other, which I think you have to do. I think you have to let one season go before you can prepare for the other.”

So for those who heard the unrestricted free agent’s rather ambiguous and admittedly eyebrow-raising comments at the end of the season about talking with his agent and still being a Washington Capital as of now, take them how you may, but remember this is a guy who loves hockey and simply recognizes he needs to recharge mentally before he  can make any clear decisions.  He’s drained mentally. But he’s fixing that.

“It’s been a long two years,” he said. “I think I’ll take some time off, and let my body relax and recharge. I’m still young, I’m still gonna play a lot of hockey, so I don’t need to be worried about that.”

And for Caps fans, it may be the best solution, too — make your peace with this season, and come back ready to rock the red next year.

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