Farewell Brooks Orpik, and Thanks for Everything!

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Posted June 25, 2019

(Caps Outsider)

Longtime NHL defenseman Brooks Orpik has announced his retirement. We recently spotted him doing volunteer work at Fort Dupont.

The Caps released a statement: “On behalf of the entire Washington Capitals organization, we would like to congratulate Brooks on a terrific NHL career. Throughout his tenure in the league, Brooks epitomized leadership and hard work. He had a tremendous influence on his teammates both on and off the ice and was instrumental in helping us capture our first Stanley Cup. We thank Brooks for the impact he had across the organization and the Washington, D.C., community over the course of five seasons and wish him, his wife Erin, and daughters Harlow and Brooklyn all the best.”

When Orpik signed a five-year, $27.5 million contract with the Capitals five years ago, a former Caps beat writer described the move to me as ‘stupid.’ Though they won a Stanley Cup, his salary was still eating up a chunk of space the Caps needed, so they traded him for a second-round pick with Philipp Grubauer to the Colorado Avalanche, who then bought out the contract. Then Orpik returned to the Caps last year for about a million.

Considering Orpik’s age at the time that he signed with the Caps (he was about to turn 34), and the length of the contract, the move did indeed seem odd, though it’s possible Matt Niskanen, who also signed with the Caps at the same time, wanted Orpik to come with him from Pittsburgh, and it was a package deal of sorts.

Orpik became an alternate captain, and the organization praised him for his locker-room presence and for helping to coach younger defensemen. But his on-ice numbers, particularly things like CORSI, led to countless articles, including on this site, to question GM Brian Maclellan’s move to sign a high-dollar, older defenseman.

Arguments can be made that without Orpik, the Caps could have done better in the playoffs, particularly a couple of years ago when he took a costly double minor which led to two Pittsburgh goals in Game 6. But we can speculate all sorts of things, with this signing, with the Filip Forsberg/Martin Erat trade, etc. It’s clear, though, that the Capitals had four highly successful years with Orpik and his leadership. In fact, Orpik played extremely well in the 2018 playoffs, and even scored a rare goal in the finals, as he won his second championship.

Would the Caps have won the Stanley Cup without Orpik? No idea. But we shouldn’t keep wondering What If? after a Stanley Cup, but instead understand that every move the team had previously made – going back 15 years – ultimately led to this.

Whether he was too old, or too overpaid, Orpik came to D.C., brought his experience, and helped the Caps win a Stanley Cup. The move worked, he played another season, and now he’s gone. Thank you, and good luck, Brooks Orpik.

Jan. 14, 2019: Orpik Plays 1,000 Games

Dec. 13, 2014: Pick-A-Stick Winners Meet Brooks Orpik

Feb 26, 2016: Brooks Orpik Gets Career High in Goals

Alex Ovechkin Nicklas Backstrom Brooks Orpik

Nick Backstrom and Brooks Orpik.

Brooks Orpik

Charlie and hist Orpik shirt.

Orpik is the Honest Abe after the Winter Classic in D.C.

Orpik sounds like Oral Pick so, he’s The Dentist.

Matt Niskanen with Griffin and Homer, and Brooks Orpik with Tyson. (Caps Outsider)

Brooks Orpik signs an autograph.

Orpik bobblehead!