Thank You Batya! Teammates, Fans, Media, and Others Pay Tribute to Brooks Orpik

brooksPhoto: 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”:

The Capitals also released statements from Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Tom Wilson, and T.J. Oshie, and John Carlson on Orpik’s retirement:

Ovechkin:

“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!”

Backstrom:

“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.”

Wilson:

“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.”

Oshie:

“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!”

Carlson:

“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:

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

About Michael Fleetwood

Michael Fleetwood was born into a family of diehard Capitals fans and has been watching games as long as he can remember. He was born the year the Capitals went to their first Stanley Cup Final, and is a diehard Caps fan, the owner of the very FIRST Joe Beninati jersey and since then, has met Joe himself. His favorite player became former Capital Nate Schmidt after he met Schmidt in a Hershey hotel while in Hershey PA to see the Bears play, shortly after Schmidt was injured during a conditioning stint. Michael is also a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Orioles, and enjoys photography, watching WildEarth TV's SafariLive live safaris, and watching animals in his spare time. (Photo by Adam Vingan in 2014 at the Capitals Development Camp).
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8 Responses to Thank You Batya! Teammates, Fans, Media, and Others Pay Tribute to Brooks Orpik

  1. Tim says:

    Great article. Thank you for this. Brooks will be missed big time. Without him, we don’t win the Cup. Thank you Brooks.

    Like

  2. Day One Caps Fan says:

    Orpik proved all his media critics wrong! And a few anti-Orpik internet trolls as well

    Like

  3. Diane Doyle says:

    Great tribute. And the guy known as Batya was loved. Before he became a Capitals, he was a member of the Penguins and one I did NOT like at all. But when he became a Cap, I did realize the signing of Niskanen and him was to get a MUCH better defense for the team since defense was frankly a disaster the previous year. (As in Nats early season this year disaster). He turned out to have a great work ethic and was a great mentor to the younger guys.

    In a way, Orpik joining the Caps was like Saul becoming a Christian. Saul used to persecute Christians but then came the road to Damascus. (We all know what happened to Saul — he became known as St Paul.)

    Godspeed, Batya. Or should we call him Dedushka (a Russian word for grandfather) or Dziadek (a Polish word for grandfather as his paternal ancesty is Polish). I assume he’ll finish that degree at Boston College. Anyway, fly like an eagle, Batya.

    Like

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