Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images
After 15 seasons (five with the Capitals), over 1,000 games played, and two Stanley Cup championships, veteran defenseman Brooks Orpik announced his retirement earlier today, concluding an illustrious career in the NHL. The player affectionately known as “Batya” was a respected leader, player, and person in the Capitals’ locker room and was instrumental in the Caps’ run to the Stanley Cup in 2018.
Originally signed by the Capitals to a five-year. $27.5 million contract in free agency in the summer of 2014, Orpik provided the team with the physical, stay-at-home, shutdown defenseman they had long been lacking during the Alex Ovechkin era, and the Caps even paid more to acquire his services, as they identified him as a key player needed to help them in their quest for a Stanley Cup. Upon arriving in D.C., Orpik was named an alternate captain, a sign the Caps recognized him as an important leader in the locker room and on the ice. Orpik was instrumental in setting an example for the young defensemen and players on the team in terms of conditioning and play on the ice. And after the announcement of his retirement, the team, his teammates, media members, and fans took to social media to pay tribute to the man known affectionately as “Batya”:
Brooks Orpik has announced his retirement today from the @NHL after 15 seasons. The two-time Stanley Cup Champion skated in 1,035 regular-season games.
Congratulations on a terrific career, Brooksie. And thank you for everything! #ALLCAPS
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) June 25, 2019
— NHLPA (@NHLPA) June 25, 2019
Truly going to miss you a lot. Thanks for all the help and support during the years. Thanks for always looking after me on and off the ice. You have been a true friend and role model for me. Good luck in the future and wish you and the family all the best. Brooks Orpik!
— andre burakovsky (@andreburakovsky) June 25, 2019
— Kathryn Tappen (@KathrynTappen) June 25, 2019
What a career for a great player and role model to all! Thanks for everything Brooksy! https://t.co/0mLdkwq3aC
— John Carlson (@JohnCarlson74) June 25, 2019
One of the best teammates to ever do it. Absolute beast. Congrats brother https://t.co/QKV6bnnItK
— Michael Latta (@Latta17) June 25, 2019
The Capitals also released statements from Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Tom Wilson, and T.J. Oshie, and John Carlson on Orpik’s retirement:
“Batya was a great leader in our locker room and was so important for us to win our first Stanley Cup. We will miss his presence in the room and on the ice. Not only was he a great leader and a player, but he was a better person. I’m so happy I had a chance to play with him and for our young guys to have had the chance to learn from him. I want to wish him, Erin and his kids the best. We will miss him and the Batya protein shakes!”
“Brooks was one of the best leaders I’ve had the chance to play with in my career. It is difficult to find a better teammate, and a player who worked harder and enjoyed the game as much as Brooks. We all learned from Brooks and he made his teammates better every day. It was a pleasure playing with him and I wish him and his family all the best.”
“Brooks was someone that I looked up to from the first day that he got to D.C. I don’t think he ever took a shift off his entire career, nor did he ever take a day off being a great leader. Brooks is truly one of the best in the game of hockey and we will miss having him in our room. Congrats, Orps, and thanks for everything. I’m wishing you, Erin and the girls all the best in the next chapter.”
“Brooks was a great player, leader, warrior and an Olympic silver medalist – the type of guy that would always stick up for his teammates, sacrifice his body and do whatever it takes to win. More importantly, he is a terrific person and a friend. Congrats, Batya, on a long and successful career!”
“I had the great opportunity to see up close how impactful Brooks was for our team. Spending time as his defensive partner and playing alongside Brooks was something that I will always cherish. He showed his teammates the importance of hard work, accountability and always being there for your team every time he stepped on the ice. We all learned from Brooks; he was our role model and he made us better. I wish him and his family all the best!”
Capitals’ majority owner Ted Leonsis and his son Zach also posted their thanks to Orpik for his time in Washington:
Much love, respect and gratitude to Brooks Orpik and his family. I can’t say enough about his leadership, integrity, love of the game, and class. Details here on his retirement. https://t.co/kQkKvB9JZU
— Ted Leonsis (@TedLeonsis) June 25, 2019
— Zach Leonsis (@ZacharyLeonsis) June 25, 2019
Orpik’s signing in 2014 was more than just an addition of a player to bolster the Capitals’ Stanley Cup chances, it was the beginning of a culture and locker room mentality change that will have a lasting effect on the organization for the foreseeable future. Orpik brought a winning mentality to the Caps but he also provided the team with the leadership and experience needed to ultimately obtain the Stanley Cup. For that, and so much more, the Capitals, their fans, and the Washington community, will forever be grateful.
By Michael Fleetwood