Before I start, let me say this: I’ve always been a huge fan of Orpik. Even when he was a member of the hated Pittsburgh Penguins, I couldn’t help but wish that the Caps had him on their defense. He also was a member of Team USA at the Olympics. So how could I not root for him then?
When the Capitals signed Orpik in free agency, I was ecstatic. The Caps finally had the physical, shutdown defenseman they had needed since the days of Brendan Witt and Mark Tinordi. But while his signing was a good thing, the term and money surprised me: five-years, $27.5 million. I believed that the Caps would’ve gotten him for four years. But the way general manager Brian MacLellan put it, it was clear the fifth year was needed: “We felt we needed to get Brooks in first, because the market for him was getting competitive. We struggled with that fifth year, but we felt that we had to go there to land him”. And while many criticized the contract, many Caps fans can agree that Orpik has been worth the money, sans his injury. What head coach Barry Trotz called a “minor injury”, has kept Brooksy-O out of the lineup for eleven games; and about a month’s worth of hockey. But to me, I DON’T BELIEVE that Orpik’s contract is a bad one.
For one, Orpik’s stay-at-home mentality has enabled defense partner John Carlson to take the next step as one of the league’s best young blueliners. Carlson had a career year last season playing with Orpik (55 points). Orpik has also won a Stanley Cup, something the Caps have failed to do in their 41-year history. His leadership and experience are valuable assets and his style of play was needed in the Capitals’ 2015 playoff run. Second, Orpik has stayed relatively healthy in his time with the Caps, playing in 78 games last year; which was more than he had played in any of the previous six seasons. His healthy lifestyle also keeps him in tip-top condition and he is a health maniac.
Another thing is that injuries happen. Every player has the injury-bug hit them every now and then and Orpik is no different. Orpik has become a fan favorite due to his physicality and many fans can agree that when he returns, Orpik will continue to show he’s worth the money.
By Michael Fleetwood