Some hockey players can excuse temporary moments of insanity because of instinct.
Earlier this week Quintin Laing saw the puck drifting toward the top of the offensive zone, and he had enough time to know what was coming. It was a three-on-five situation during a training camp scrimmage, and Laing knew Alex Ovechkin was waiting between the circles, ready to shoot.
Laing even thought before the previous faceoff to tell scrimmage teammate Mike Green not to worry about covering that portion of the ice in case of an Ovechkin blast.
Still, Laing moved himself into Ovechkin’s radar and dived face-first to the ice.
“I was just hoping it would hit me on some padding, and thankfully it did,” Laing said. “My whole knee just went numb, and it was just tingling. Thank God it came back in about five seconds.”
Laing has one career NHL goal, and yet he is a cult figure with Washington Capitals fans for his courageous attempts to block shots.
“We all love Quintin,” Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said. “He’s a favorite with the fans, he’s a favorite in the locker room and he’s a favorite with the coaches. In this organization we strive for character, and he’s got oodles of that.”
Laing played 508 games in eight seasons between the ECHL and American Hockey League and three NHL contests before the 2007-08 campaign. But a rash of injuries and Boudreau’s promotion from Hershey to Washington earned him an improbable opportunity. Laing was an instant hit with the Caps for his willingness to sacrifice his body to block shots.