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Brooks Orpik Announces Retirement

The veteran blueliner hangs ‘em up after 15 seasons

2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Five Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

After 15 seasons and 1,035 regular-season games, defenseman Brooks Orpik has announced his retirement from the NHL:

“I’ve been extremely lucky to have the best job in the world for many years, but my body is telling me it is time to move on to something new,” said Orpik. “I’m excited for more family time and to experience a lot of the things that being a professional athlete forces you to miss out on. Thank you to the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins for giving me the opportunity to play against the best athletes in the world. I’ll be forever grateful for the memories and relationships that hockey has given me.” - Statement from Orpik

The veteran blueliner arrived in DC back in 2014 after starting his career with the Pittsburgh Penguins, where he won the first of his two Stanley Cups. He went on to play 332 games for the Caps over five seasons, plus another 64 in the playoffs, with a combined 73 points over that span (5-57-62 in the regular season, 2-9-11 in the postseason).

Of course, it wasn’t his point production that made him a 15-year veteran and a key member of the Capitals; for Orpik, it seemed, the intangibles were what gave him the most value as a player and a teammate. It’s hard to deny that the organization underwent a seismic shift when Orpik and fellow Penguin castoff Matt Niskanen arrived in DC on July 1, 2014, and his ability to command respect helped shape the team into a Stanley Cup winner.

One only has to read the comments from Orpik’s teammates after he scored an overtime game-winner back in the first round this spring against Carolina to see how beloved he was in that locker room. Here’s Braden Holtby:

“He’s leaving a mark on everyone, and that wears on a team through a series. That’s how important he is on the ice. And his leadership and his drive and mentality make everyone around him better. That’s why we’re a better team with Brooks Orpik.”

And T.J. Oshie:

“Brooksy does so much for all of us on the ice, off the ice. He sets the tone out there physically for us, blocking shots. Never complains about anything. Guys like that, leaders that don’t score a ton of goals, they come up in big moments for you.”

And Nicklas Backstrom:

“He’s like a dad in the locker room to everybody. He’s a guy you love to have on your team but you hate to play against.”

Those teammates had even more to say about what Orpik has meant to them and this team upon hearing the announcement; be sure to read all of the nice things they said about him here.

Orpik’s leadership in the locker room and physical presence on the ice endeared him to his fellow Caps and eventually even won over most Caps fans (even if the actual defensive performance sometimes fell under fire).

And no matter what you thought of him as a defenseman, he was a huge part of the team that brought the Stanley Cup to Washington - and for that he will forever be beloved in this town.

Thanks for everything, Batya. Best of luck in retirement.

Carolina Hurricanes v Washington Capitals - Game Two Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images
Washington Capitals v Columbus Blue Jackets Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images
2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Two Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images
2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Five Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images
2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Five Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Five Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images