The Capitals announced earlier this week that assistant coach Reid Cashman will be leaving at the end of the season to become the head coach at Dartmouth. To many, the move sounded like a mutually agreed-upon conclusion to Cashman’s time in Washington, considering the struggles with team elements under Cashman’s purview. Regardless of reasoning, the Capitals will need to add a defensive-minded coach prior to the beginning of the 2020-2021 season. Enter Brooks Orpik?
Despite starting out with essentially the same defensive group that won the Capitals a Stanley Cup in 2018, the team has allowed an average of 3.05 goals-per-game under Cashman, which is 17th in the NHL during his tenure.
The Capitals were eighth in goals-against per game (2.76) through the first 37 games of this season but are 29th in the NHL with an average of 3.44 goals-against per game since. The only two teams who were worse were the Ottawa Senators (3.47) and Detroit Red Wings (3.52), the two worst teams in the NHL in 2019-20.
The Capitals allowed a league-high 3.58 goals-against per game after January 28. Though, their average of 30.2 shots-against per game was the ninth-fewest in the NHL this season.
A change was needed.
So should the Capitals fill the opening with Brooks Orpik? You bet…But not so fast.
The move seems like a perfect fit. Orpik has remained in the Capitals organization since his retirement, working with defensive prospects in Hershey during his first season of “retirement”. He garners tremendous respect from existing Capitals players, the coaches, as well as the front office.
Orpik is a tremendous leader and positive role model for all players, as well as someone that would add a ton of “glue” and experience in the locker room. A two-time Stanley Cup winner, who does everything the right way.
The key question remaining? is this something Brooks Orpik wants? He is likely thoroughly enjoying his time with his family in Cohasset, Massachusetts. The move would mean returning to the day-to-day grind and travel required for an assistant coaches position. And is this something he wants? Does he want a career in coaching at the NHL level?
The move is a “no brainer” from this perspective, but it seems it would be entirely up to Brooks Orpik and his family. We hope, as Capitals fans, he decides to give it a go.