Guarantees have as much of a place in sports as statistical records. For every fulfilled promise (Joe Namath and Super Bowl III, Mark Messier and Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals), there are those that go horribly wrong (Matt Hasselback's ill-fated claim during a 2003 NFC Wildcard Playoff game).
So when Brooks Laich made a similar statement Wednesday, it did not seem out of place.
“We’re making the playoffs," the Washington Capitals forward told 106.7 The Fan Wednesday morning. “We’re not talking worst-case scenario. We’re making the playoffs....There’s probably games in October that you wish you had or November or whatever, but over the course of 82 games your team identity is gonna be revealed. And either you are or you aren’t a playoff team. There’s really no gray area.”
Later Wednesday morning, when asked about the aforementioned comments, Laich stood by them.
“I have a belief we’re going to be in the playoffs and that’s it,” Laich said after practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. “I don’t want to discuss any scenario that we’re not. My belief is that we’re going to be in the playoffs.”
Laich never said the "G" word, but that does not matter. A guarantee is a promise or assurance that certain conditions will be fulfilled (Thanks, Merriam and Webster). Laich did not qualify his statement with a "could" or "perhaps" or "should;" it was a statement of fact, hence a guarantee, but it still led to an argument regarding its validity as one: were Laich's comments a guarantee or just confidence from Washington's most painfully-optimistic player?
Honestly, it does not matter what it was because the more important aspect of the situation was that word reached Buffalo, where the Sabres are tied with the Caps with 88 points with two games left.
“I don’t think anybody in this locker room would go as far as to start to do that,” Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller said to local reporters. “It gets to be distracting. Hopefully it’s a huge distraction to them. Some guys don’t react well to that. Guys might tighten up. Maybe their young goaltenders aren’t going to react well to a guaranteed victory by their veteran guy. You start thinking about it.”
There are three days left in the NHL's regular season, so Laich and the world will know by Saturday evening whether or not his optimism/bravado will catch up to him.
I guarantee it.
Adam Vingan is co-founder and editor of Kings Of Leonsis, a Caps-centric blog, and is the Capitals Editor for SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter @Adam_KOL and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.