Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Capitals GM George McPhee declared on July 9 that Brooks Laich would play second-line center for the Caps during the 2013-14 season, according to Katie Carrera of The Washington Post.
McPhee said "we had him there in the playoffs a couple of years ago, liked it a lot. He’s a natural center, grew up playing center and we think it’s time to play him there."
If anyone is up for the challenge, it would be Laich.
The 30-year-old is a versatile hockey player who has even played defense for the Capitals during his nine years with the club. In 565 games in Washington, Laich has 117 goals, 165 assists and 282 points. He has played in 51 postseason games, with nine goals and 21 assists for 30 points.
But now Laich may be facing the biggest challenge of his career.
Laich has been tasked with replacing Mike Ribeiro, who departed for the Phoenix Coyotes earlier in the offseason.
In 2012-13, the 33-year-old pivot finished fifth in the NHL with 36 assists, and first in the league with 21 power play assists.
Here is what McPhee might as well have said to Laich, the longest-tenured member of the Capitals: "Welcome back to the Washington Capitals, Brooks! We're so glad to have you back playing full-time, after suffering through so many injury issues last season. Now, with all that out of the way, I want you to play second-line center this season. And you better not suck at it, because we don't have any other viable options at the position. Good luck!"
The above quote is fake. But the pressure on Laich is very real.