Brooks Orpik announced his retirement from the NHL on Tuesday after 15 seasons and two Stanley Cup championships. He is 38 years old.
“I’ve been extremely lucky to have the best job in the world for many years, but my body is telling me it is time to move on to something new,” Orpik said through an NHLPA release. “I’m excited for more family time and to experience a lot of the things that being a professional athlete forces you to miss out on. Thank you to the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins for giving me the opportunity to play against the best athletes in the world. I’ll be forever grateful for the memories and relationships that hockey has given me.”
Orpik played 1,035 games in the NHL, most of which were with the Penguins, the team that drafted him 18th overall in 2000. Orpik ranks eighth all-time and second all-time among defensemen in games-played for the Penguins, with 703 over 11 seasons. He recorded 13 goals, 119 assists, 879 blocked shots, and 1,595 hits as a member of the Penguins.
One of Orpik's most memorable moments as a member of the Penguins was the shift in which he recorded four hits in 15 seconds in the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals against the Red Wings.
Orpik became the first native of California to win the Stanley Cup when the Penguins won in 2009. Orpik registered four assists, 51 blocked shots, and 112 hits in the 24 games of that Stanley Cup run.
Another highlight of Orpik's time with the Penguins was in the 2013 playoffs, his penultimate season in Pittsburgh. Orpik scored his first career playoff goal in overtime of Game 6 to eliminate the Islanders in the first round of the playoffs.
Orpik signed with the Capitals as a free agent in 2014. He spent the final five seasons of his career in Washington, recording five goals, 57 assists, 672 blocked shots, and 961 hits over 332 games. He won a second Stanley Cup with the Capitals in 2018.
“On behalf of the entire Washington Capitals organization, we would like to congratulate Brooks on a terrific NHL career," the Capitals said in a statement. "Throughout his tenure in the league, Brooks epitomized leadership and hard work. He had a tremendous influence on his teammates both on and off the ice and was instrumental in helping us capture our first Stanley Cup. We thank Brooks for the impact he had across the organization and the Washington, D.C. community over the course of five seasons and wish him, his wife Erin, and daughters Harlow and Brooklyn all the best.”
Alex Ovechkin referred to Orpik as "batya," a Russian word for "father," showing respect.
“Batya was a great leader in our locker room and was so important for us to win our first Stanley Cup," said Ovechkin. "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!”
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