Brooks Orpik Joins Capitals Blue Line

Posted July 1, 2014

(Photo via USA Hockey)

The Washington Capitals signed defenseman Brooks Orpik to a five-year, $27.5 million contract, the organization announced Tuesday. Orpik comes straight from the Caps’ arch rival, the Pittsburgh Penguins, where he played since 2005. In 2009, the Penguins names Orpik Defenseman of the Year, the same year they won the Stanley Cup. He represented the United States twice at the Olympics in 2010 and 2014. The US won the silver medal in 2010.

Orpik is a stay-at-home defender, and that’s just what the doctor ordered for the Caps. It was the lack of consistent defense, coupled with an offense unable to score at full strength, that led to a very disappointing 2013-2014 season. Orpik will be expected to fill in some of the gaps, and play big minutes against opposing stars.

It’s no wonder Orpik is known as media-friendly especially coming from one of the most media-friendly teams in the NHL. The Caps are also an open and accommodating organization, so Orpik should fit in both on and off the ice as well. Accordingly, Orpik had his first media phone conference as a Cap Tuesday, and he didn’t disappoint. He was upfront, friendly and humble.

“I didn’t expect to leave Pittsburgh but with all the changes being made in the Penguins organization it was the perfect time in my life for the change,” said Orpik.  “I met with the Caps’ coaches and Ted Leonsis on Sunday. It was a combination of things, but the whole situation just seemed right. I’ve played against the Caps enough to know the potential of the Caps organization. It really was a no brainer.”

As teammates on the US Olympic team, Orpik got to know and appreciate John Carlson as a fellow defenseman. In a humorous story, he recalled that he also had the opportunity to spend time with Alex Ovechkin during drug testing after the United States vs. Russia game.

“Neither one of us could pee after the game so we had to wait around to be tested, so Ovechkin and I had a chance to talk.”

So, is Orpik worth $27.5 million for 5 years?

“Better to ask the front office that hired me,” Orpik replied after a moment of hesitation. “I take care of myself, work hard and practice good nutrition.”

Caps fans welcome Brooks Orpik and hope that his talent and experience will help the Caps make the playoffs. After all, he’s been there, he knows what it takes, and his name is already on the Stanley Cup.