Former Washington Capitals forward Brooks Laich officially announced his retirement Friday. Though he last suited up for the Caps in 2016, he leaves behind a meaningful legacy.
Laich was originally drafted by the Ottawa Senators in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. He played one game for the Sens before they traded him to the Capitals in exchange for Peter Bondra and a second-round pick in 2003. Laich then developed with Washington’s then AHL-affiliate Portland Pirates before making his NHL debut in 2004.
“There comes a time in every athlete’s life where we must let go of what was, so we can fully step into what will be,” Laich wrote on Instagram. “That time has finally arrived for me, and today I formally announce my retirement from professional hockey… I reflect on my entire hockey journey with immense pride, for I poured my heart and soul into being the best hockey player I could be over three decades. I was able to express myself through the sport I loved, and compete with and against the best in the world for 13 seasons in the NHL. Every single moment was a privilege and an honor – and I lived my childhood dream every single day!”
Best of luck going forward! pic.twitter.com/nyL3rivkW8
— Hershey Bears (@TheHersheyBears) June 25, 2021
The winger worked his way up, showcased his skill and drive to earn a spot on the Caps roster. Following a 73-game stint with Washington in 2006-07, he returned to the AHL-affiliate Hershey Bears for their playoff run. He picked up eight goals and 15 points in 21 playoff games en route to the Bears’ Calder Cup title.
Over time, the Saskatchewan native become prominent for being a natural leader and hard-working player for the Capitals.
“If I asked you about your family, you would talk about them forever because it’s something you love. That’s the way I feel about this team,” Laich told the Washington Post in 2008. “This team is my life, and I love playing here and I’m passionate about hockey.”
His dedication and care also went beyond the ice. Following Washington’s Game 7 loss to the Montreal Canadiens in 2010, Laich saw a woman and her teenage daughter stranded on Theodore Roosevelt Bridge with a flat tire. He changed their tire and also apologized for the team’s first-round exit. As a result, Michael Farber nominated him for 2010 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year.
Over 12 years with the Capitals, Laich picked up 133 goals and 324 points in 742 games. Through a friend, he met former wife Julianne Hough. He was traded to Toronto in 2016 as part of the deal for Daniel Winnik, and later headed to L.A. and played 33 more NHL games. Laich last suited up for the Kings in the 2017-18 season, the same year Washington captured its first Stanley Cup.
The 38-year-old is now an avid adventurer, podcast host and entrepreneur who shares his travels with the world. He also works to combat child exploitation and slavery.