I don't know how it got by us, but the Feb. 18 meeting of the Caps and Habs marked Brooks Laich's five-year anniversary of becoming a Capital. Even Brooks himself wasn't aware of the anniversary, so I suppose we're in the clear on this one.
During the 03-04 season, the Capitals were engaged in their massive fire sale. One by on,e fan favorites were shipped off to new locales in return for prospects and draft picks. As the roster went from familiar faces to "who the hell is this guy," there was one player nobody wanted to lose.
On Feb. 18, 2004, the Capitals traded Peter Bondra to the Ottawa Senators for prospect Brooks Laich.
After 961 games and 14 years of service, the man known as "Bonzai" was no longer a Capital. He left the Capitals as the franchise leader in points (825), goals (472), power play goals (137) and game-winning goals (73).
Brooks Laich came to the Capitals with only one game of NHL experience with the Sens. While it's unfair to say he had to "fill Bondra's shoes," he certainly had a lot to live up to. While Brooks won't eclipse Bondra's scoring numbers, we can safely say that no. 21 was worth losing no. 12 for.
Brooks was a member of the Hershey Bears Calder Cup team and quickly became a third- and fourth-line fixture on the Capitals roster during the regular season.
Here's Brooks' minor-league stats.
To sum up Brook's playing style, he is best described as a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. He's probably never going to score more than 40 goals in a single season, but that doesn't mean he isn't capable of scoring clutch goals. Laich is a heart-and-soul player, someone who gives 110% no matter what situation the team is in.
It is that sort of play that has turned him into a fan favorite amongst the Capitals faithful. If you walk around the Verizon Center, you'll likely see quite a few No. 21 sweaters amongst the sea of No. 8s. Brooks also currently holds one of the longest-running jokes on the Capitals Message Board, a parody of the Chuck Norris facts.
Here's to five great years that have flown by, and here's to many, many more in Capitals red.
Just a few classic Laich moments to re-live.
Brooks Laich, ladies man.
Brooks Laich, puck magnet
We can't find his first goal on YouTube, but here's his sickest shootout goal