The Washington Capitals won’t be bringing Brooks Orpik back for another season. The veteran defenseman announced his retirement from professional hockey today, indicating that his body just couldn’t handle the grind of another NHL season.
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. 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.
Orpik, 38, was originally selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins 18th overall in a very different era of the NHL. The 6’3″ 217-lbs defenseman had registered just 10 points in 38 games that season for Boston College, but was a feared physical presence at even that young age. Not drafted for his offensive ability, Orpik nevertheless put up a pair of solid seasons at both ends of the rink for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to start his career before jumping onto the Pittsburgh roster and not looking back. In parts of 11 seasons with the Penguins, Orpik played 703 regular season games and registered 2,187 hits. Every opponent knew when he was on the ice, but sometimes couldn’t do anything to avoid getting run over.
In 2009, Orpik would win his first Stanley Cup with the Penguins, logging more than 20 minutes a night and registering 112 hits in just 24 games. An Olympic silver medal followed the year after, and a second NHL title years later with the Washington Capitals. “Batya” as the Capitals teammates called him, was an integral piece of their locker room and still a playoff warrior on the ice.
Orpik will finish his career with 1,035 regular season games, 194 points and 3,148 hits.