NHL lockout provides twist of (favorable) fate for one Caps player

Washington Capitals center Brooks Laich skates against the Carolina Hurricanes in March. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Ben Raby, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – Shortly before Canada’s 2010 Men’s Olympic Team was announced, Washington Capitals forward Brooks Laich joked that he would even pay his own airfare if he was selected to play.

“If [team manager] Steve Yzerman is listening, I’d drop just about everything to play for Canada,” he said at the time. “It’s every Canadian’s dream to represent their country and wear the jersey.”

As he predicted later that same conversation, Laich was passed over when the Olympic roster was announced. Still, he represented Canada three months later at the 2010 World Championships and has often said that he would jump at any opportunity to represent his country again.

In an odd twist made possible from the NHL lockout, that chance could come later this month. Hockey Canada said Monday that with all NHL games cancelled through Dec. 30, it may look to available NHL talent to fill its roster at the annual Spengler Cup.

The Spengler Cup won’t ever be confused for the Olympics or World Championships, but the five-team tournament based in Davos, Switzerland, dates back to 1923 and is a fixture on the international hockey calendar.

Canada’s team is usually comprised of Canadian-born pros playing in the Swiss National League with a few players sprinkled in from other European leagues or the American Hockey League.

In addition to Team Canada, the tournament includes host HC Davos of the Swiss League as well as three other European club teams.

Besides Laich, other NHL players who have spent the lockout playing in Switzerland include Patrice Bergeron, Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza and John Tavares.

Laich has played 19 games with the Swiss League’s Kloten Flyers and has six goals and 18 points.

Hockey Canada told the Canadian press on Monday that because the lockout can still end before the Dec. 31 tournament final, management will wait as long as possible before announcing its roster.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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