Driving following Washington's 2-1 home loss to the Montreal Canadiens in Game 7 of their first-round series, Laich pulled over when he saw Mary Ann Wangemann and her 14-year-old daughter, Lorraine, in full Capitals gear outside the stopped car, The Washington Post's D.C. Sports Bog reported Thursday. Die-hard Caps fans, the Wangemann's had attended Game 7 that night.
Triple A was on the way, but Wangemann asked Laich if he'd wait with them, as they were "a little spooked" with traffic cruising by in the dark of night. Instead, he grabbed the spare and jack and went to work.
The thing took a while, as late-night tire changes on the side of bridges often do. So they started talking hockey. Laich, who scored the team's only goal in game 7, apologized to them for the Caps losing. They told him how great the season had been and how much they liked this team. Laich said he hoped they got a chance to stay together.
The jack fell down, and he had to start again. Lorraine stood behind him, mouthing to her mom over and over, "It's Brooks Laich! It's Brooks Laich!" Laich was friendly but somber as he worked. Mary Ann -- who had never before cared about a sports team -- talked about why she liked this group so much, and how they seemed so nice off the ice.
"Just because my day sucked doesn't mean I couldn't stop and help someone else," Laich said.
Maybe the rest of the team should follow suit, going to work for fans one at a time after becoming the first top-seeded team eliminated by an eighth-seeded team after taking a 3-1 lead in a best-of-seven NHL playoff series. It is, after all, the beginning of a longer than expected off-season.
The Capitals told the Sports Bog that they confirmed the story with Laich.