Defining Brooks Laich


[Brooks:] I have been on skates for 32 years. I started skating when I was 2 years old. We started playing organized hockey when I was 5. Played in my hometown of Wawota, Saskatchewan, until I was 15 and then I played in Esterhazy, then the next year I moved away at the age of 16 to pursue the hockey dream. At the age of 17 I was drafted to the National Hockey League, which is the highest level of hockey you can play in the world. Then at the age of 19 I turned professional. I made the NHL at the age of 20 and have been playing the last 14 years. The game means so much to me. Winning means so much to me. The National Hockey League means so much to me. There’s no better feeling than stepping on the ice in a game that I love and just competing against the best in the world. You’re gonna win some, you’re gonna lose some, and the times you lose motivate you to be better. And the times you win, you’re so happy. I absolutely feel alive in the sport of hockey. I’m doing the same thing at 34 that I did when I was 5 years old. Hockey’s a huge part of me. It’s a huge part of my life. [Producer:] In your opinion, to what degree does hockey define you? [Brooks:] Wow, great question. To what degree does hockey define me? Good boy, come here. Good boy. That’s a good boy. You meet a buddy? Did you meet a buddy? Go, go, go, go. Torin, watch Harley. Zero calories burned, just zero. Look at this. Standing and sniffing. Hey mama! You don’t like to run. You come to the park to check out the boys. [Producer:] It’s safe to say that Harley lives a relatively carefree life. [Brooks:] You come to the park to check out the boys. Ready? Ready? Ready? [Producer:] Things are a little more complicated for Brooks’ life. He’s a 14-year NHL veteran and for the first time in his career he’s an unrestricted free agent, meaning he can sign with any team that he wants. It also means there are no guarantees. With no team to provide him a city, he has planted roots in Los Angeles, California, and there’s a very good reason for that. [Julianne:] This is gonna sound cocky, but before Brooks met me, hockey was the number one thing in his life. You know, arguably, it is the most important thing in his life for him professionally, spiritually, mentally, all of those things. I mean, it’s who he is. It has been his identity his whole life as far as, you know, “I’m a hockey player.” [Brooks:] Jules brings everything to my life. I could have the greatest day ever at the gym or at the rink, and it pales in comparison to the moments that I get to spend with her when I’m around the house. Making supper, our family life is so strong. I can’t imagine life without her in it. We like to cook more than we like to eat out. And usually she’s been out all day, I’ve been out all day skating and working out or whatever. This is kind of quality time together. [Producer:] Is it like a bonding thing? [Brooks to Julianne:] Hello? Clearly, clearly a bonding thing. Hey, what are you doing? [Julianne:] I love you so much. [Brooks:] Yeah, you say that now because you’re mad that you were texting. She got caught on camera texting. [Julianne:] Anybody who knows him knows that he’s authentic, he’s genuine. He’s the most welcoming person you’ll ever meet. You feel immediately comfortable and ready to just be you. And so I think for the first time I felt safe to be myself, my goofy, crazy, wild, genuine self, and he was completely accepting of that, and in fact encouraging. [Brooks:] Mmm, this looks good, babe. [Producer:] Julianne Hough has been a part of Brooks’ life since 2013. She’s both an actress and a singer, but most of her life has been devoted to dancing. [Brooks:] Well, between the both of us, we’ve won two “Dancing with the Stars” titles, so that’s pretty good, but I didn’t win either of them. [Julianne:] I’m a thousand percent the better dancer in the relationship, but I will tell you Brooks always is the one to ask us to dance. [Brooks:] And I’ve begged her since we met to teach me how to dance and even for our wedding I didn’t even get taught how to dance. I was just out there on the floor, just flailing away, trying my best. [Julianne:] Husband and wife trying to teach each other their sport or, you know, their career, whatever it may be, that can get a little heated sometimes, I’m pretty sure. So I’m like, hey, I love you too much to fight with you over dance moves. [Brooks:] Admittedly, she had never seen much hockey before she met me. It’s still fun because she’s still learning hockey, so she asks some funny questions for me that I don’t usually get asked. But the same for me with dancing, right? I never knew much about dancing until I met her, but I’m so thankful that she appreciates my passion and promotes me to do it. I think she’s my number one fan, along with probably my parents and my brother and sister. She’s an amazing, supportive wife. It’s like Christmas, buddy. I’m 34 years old, which I’ve been fortunate enough to play in the National Hockey League for 14 years. The average career is only five, so I’m very fortunate that I still feel like I’m a kid and I have so much hockey left in me. Now the nature of the sport is it’s trending super young. It’s now a league where 22 to 26-year-olds are the most dominant players. So I’m on the wrong side of 26. I’m trying to develop some momentum this summer, show that I’m still young, still have legs. The game still means a lot to me, winning means a lot to me. And I’m still searching for a contract for the fall because I want to continue my hockey league career and play as long as I can play the sport that I love and try and compete for a Stanley Cup. [Producer:] The LA Kings offered Brooks a professional tryout agreement, or PTO. He now has a chance to earn a contract while attending training camp. [Brooks:] I have so much hockey left in me and I’d love to do it, love to play for the LA Kings and be at home here with my wife. [Julianne:] When we first met, he’s had a bucket list and one of his bucket list, you know, moments was that he would finish hockey on his terms. Unfortunately, that might not be the case, but I think he’s done a lot of self work and to be honest, CrossFit, working out, being in LA, having his friend group and community group that is CrossFit based. You know, he’s opened up his whole world to the fact that there is a lot that he has to offer and discover in the future. [Brooks:] The first thing I do every single day, gym or rink, is roll my feet on the lacrosse ball. And as soon as you start seeing tightness in the shin and the calf and a person loses that mobility to get over their toe, if that shrinks up, their on-ice speed will decrease, your mobility will decrease and potentially maybe you’re looking at some sort of injury. So like that’s that’s where I start every day, is can I get this over? Can I get over my toes so that I can be so forward loaded? Meanwhile have the chest and head up, but to create linear speed. [Producer:] At this point, you may be asking yourself, how does an established professional athlete pick up CrossFit as a training methodology? Well, it may have been fate. [Lewis:] Would you play for a minimum salary contract? [Brooks:] Yeah, sure.
[Lewis:] What’s the minimum salary at your level?
[Brooks:] 600 or something. But I don’t care, it’s not about the money. I just want to play, it’s so much fun. I just want to play. [Producer:] Brooks is talking contracts with his good friend Lewis Howes, who happens to have trained under the 2010 CrossFit Games champion, Graham Holmberg. [Lewis:] I used to play college football with a guy named Graham Holmberg back in 2005, so I started to train in his gym in Columbus, Ohio. Then, when I moved out here to West Hollywood I joined Brick. [Producer:] So when Brooks asked Lewis where do athletes work out in LA, he sent him to Brick. [Brooks:] Stepped in, saw open floor space, saw athletes, saw people doing things that I had never even experienced or seen before in my life and was immediately hooked. I said, “OK, this is the place for me. This is where the athletes are, this is where I want to be.” [Cesar:] Good. Peel those shoulder blades back. [Brooks:] Cesar Flores. He’s the head coach of Brick CrossFit and my first day of training with him, he put me through about 30 tests, things I’d never done before, never explored before, never moved in that way before, and I pretty much failed every single one of them. [Cesar:] There it is. Three, two, one. Right at 14. Brooks’ capacity is like no other Hug, power, drive. Good. Perfect, 30 seconds. He has one of the best aerobic capacities I’ve ever seen. Yes, you’re right at 26 to 28. Averaging about a 140. Perfect pace. [Brooks:] My biggest weakness when I first started CrossFit I think was, this sounds surprising, but a lack of mobility. [Cesar:] Foot out, drive up. Yes, good rotation, good torque. [Brooks:] He pointed out so many range-of-motion things that I couldn’t do. [Cesar:] Yeah, it’s good. excellent! [Brooks:] Even just an overhead squat, I mean, from playing hockey, I was so hunched over. [Cesar:] We’re working on new skills here. Yes. Find that core, come on! Small steps, small small steps. There you go! Tighten up that core, feet together. I think that when people think of elite athletes, they think that they move perfectly and that the reason that they’re in their sport is because they’re at their best. Well, for me, it’s understanding that every athlete compensates and it’s my position to figure out what he compensates to understand those micro movements and to help him improve on that so he can basically be the best at his sport. Come on! Don’t let that draw pass 800! Come on! Three, two, one, oooh weee. [Brooks:] Cesar is amazing at pushing mobility and pushing movement first before you do speed or weight or volume. You need to do the movements first and his tagline is teaching athletes to move elegantly and I think that’s just so beautiful. [Cesar:] He’s absolutely fitter, and I think that you would determine “fit” based on a few things. Knowing through his characteristics of fitness how much power and how much speed and stamina. But his movement, he moves extremely well. We took away those parking brakes. I think for me, when you say “fit,” it’s the ability to adapt not only to his sport but to adapt to anything I throw at him and to me that is “fit.” [Brooks:] Part of training as an athlete is to train for elite performance, which CrossFit obviously does. The other benefit of it is the injury prevention. My body is better to prevent injuries, better prepared to receive contact, in better alignment, more mobile than it’s ever been before. CrossFit absolutely made me a better hockey player. [Cesar:] As long as he stays healthy, he can play in the league another five to seven years. People don’t realize the type of person he is, the leader, his movement, his output. I think he can stay in the league as long as he maintains his body. And he would be a pretty damn good CrossFit athlete, too. [Brooks:] That’s some good work. Come on, look at her. How old are you in this, babe?
[Julianne:] 19.
[Brooks:] 19. She’s singing it, too. I had a good friend one time tell me, if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. It was just the outfit, like the little shorts and the cowboy boots. And so ever since then I’ve always been wary of predicting the future, but my wife and I are actually starting a really exciting chapter. Obviously we just got married and now we’re not gonna be doing long distance anymore. For three-and-a-half years we’ve done long distance, with me playing hockey and her being in LA working. And we’re gonna be together, we’re gonna build our life together. We want to have kids. I’m hoping for four, she’s maybe talking about two. So we’ll see where that goes, but it’s just exciting, exciting time to be alive. Thirty-four and my best days are absolutely still ahead of me. And I’m so curious to what I can create and accomplish every single day. What am I most proud of in my life? I think it is that today I’m doing what I said I was gonna do when I was 5. My whole life I’ve said I wanted to be a hockey player, that I’m gonna play in that TV. Mom, Dad, you’re gonna be able to watch me on that TV. I’m gonna play in the National Hockey League, and I said that when I was 5 and I’m doing it at the age of 34. I think more often than not, the sport is usually done with an individual before the individual is done with the sport. I hope that’s not the case for me. I’m 34, I still have so much left to give, so much left to compete And I love the game more every single day, so this fall is kind of a make-or-break it. I mean, I have to earn a contract to keep playing or else potentially the career could be over. But I’m not ready for that, man. I have so much left to give. What happens if I don’t get a contract and play in the NHL next season? Yeah, I guess life goes on. Hockey has been so incredible and I’ve been so fortunate to play it as long as I have, longer than most ever get to play it. But life goes on. I mean, I have a beautiful, loving wife. I have a great family. I have great friends. I feel like the greatest destiny is to be a great husband, a great father, a family man and a servant of humanity and that’s why I say that hockey doesn’t define me. It’s a part of who I am, but there’s so much more to life than just hockey. [Julianne:] What’s been amazing is that he has been so focused on hockey and that’s why he is the player that he is, why he has been an athlete and a professional hockey player for as long as he has. But also now I feel like the world is sort of a new thing to him and he gets to do whatever he wants. I literally have chills all over my body after I just said that because I believe in him so much. And he believes in himself so much too that he could literally do anything and not just be good at it, but be outstanding at it.

18 Replies to “Defining Brooks Laich”

  1. This is so great and the perfect role model I would love for my son to be as he follows his own hockey dreams and his future ahead of him!

  2. I loved this story! You are one of my favorite people to follow on IG, you are so positive and funny and you are a genuine great human and I will always be a huge fan! I love Your wife as well, you two are great to follow! Thank you for allowing your fans a peak at your life! Good Luck with the Kings, you deserve nothing but great things! God Bless!

  3. Go Dodgers!!! I was introduced to Crossfit at 37 and its been the best thing that could have happen to me at that exact moment in my life. Every body thinks its down hill after 40; well not for me, I'm still climbing, thanks to Crossfit. Congratulations to you and Mrs. Laich (like); still can't get over that's how you pronounce your name. Go Kings!!! I love L.A.!!!

  4. Great to walk away from watching this with such a positive message from a positive guy. As a Rangers fan I never thought much of Brooks because he was with the Capitals but its great to see the human side of a great person. I wish you the best and will certainly be rooting for you.

  5. As a beer league hockey player and a CrossFitter, I am not shocked to hear that mobility was one of Brooks' biggest challenges and his engine was really good.

  6. This guy is awesome. Started following him on social media a few months ago and he is really inspirational. Good luck to him in Hockey and life.

  7. Dear Crossfit, I would pay my hardearned cash to have crossfit do some hockey-based stuff. I love skating, it's triplanar movement moving in the sagital, frontal, and transverse planes. Literally endless combinations of movement. I guess that's one reason Crossfit appealed to me as much as inline and ice skating after my career as a runner went out from years and years of compensation. But yeah, if Laich were to start a Crossfit WOD series for beer leaguers and amatuer stick-and-puck guys who want to improve I'd be so down.

  8. Well Brooks…I will pray that you will be able to continue doing what you love. I'm also glad that you found someone you adore and who adores you. Never let anything or anyone come between you and your wife what God put together. But, for some reason you are not picked up there are things you can do relating to hockey…maybe instructing younger lads to play this sport you love. God bless you both.

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