In the Washington Capitals locker room, defenseman Brooks Orpik played the role of a mentor. Now retired, he will look to keep that going in a new position.
Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan announced on Monday that Orpik will join the team’s Player Development Department, where he will help out with defensive prospects.
“As a member of our team, Brooks was a tremendous leader and a great role model for our young players,” MacLellan said in a press release. “We are excited to be able to bring him back in this new role. We feel he will be a great resource for our hockey staff and our prospects.”
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Originally taken 18th overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2000 NHL draft, Orpik played 15 NHL seasons with the Penguins and Capitals before hanging up the skates on June 25. He finished his tenure with 18 goals, 194 points and a plus/minus rating of plus-79, as well as two Stanley Cups. He also won silver with the United States at the 2010 Winter Olympics.
However, during his playing career, his off-ice role held just as much significance, especially in the Washington dressing room.
The 38-year-old grizzled veteran, who served as an alternate captain during his time with the Caps, was given the nickname “Batya” (Russian term for a father figure) by his teammates. From giving off-ice nutrition advice to helping players with their on-ice skill, Orpik made his presence known as a leader.
“He’s meant a lot, I think. He’s just one of those guys that you love to have around and have on your team,” Nicklas Backstrom said at Washington’s exit day in April. “He’s a true pro and he’s keeping everyone in order, I think. He’s a little dad in there for everyone, it doesn’t matter how old you are.”
In his new role, Orpik will mainly work with the Capitals’ defensive prospects playing with the AHL-affiliate Hershey Bears.
Prior to his retirement, Orpik reflected on his off-ice contributions and leadership in the locker room and said he was satisfied with the positive impact he left on his teammates.
“As you get older as a player, you’re not the same player you were when you were 27, so you gotta do things differently,” Orpik said at exit day. “I think when I was a younger player, I had some really good older teammates and I had some other older teammates that I didn’t really love. I think getting a taste of that, as you get older you reflect on that, and you’re like, ‘I hope guys view me in the same light I viewed some of these guys, not the way I was treated by some of these other guys.'”
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