Out of everyone who left on Tuesday, this one leaves a mark. And it’s not because it means the Pens are doomed. They’re not doomed; it’s time for the young defensemen to get a shot. Orpik signing with the Capitals isn’t what makes it leave a mark, either.
It stings because Orpik was our last connection to the truly Dark Ages. And now he’s gone. A quick look back at Orpik’s Penguins career:
Craig Patrick drafted him 18th overall in the 2000 draft. Great pick, although Niklas Kronwall was still on the board. Can’t argue either way, though.
He saw some action in 2002-2003, playing 6 games. When 2003-2004 rolled around, he was all systems go. By the way, he wore #29 early in his Penguins career. Here’s the scoop on that.
HITTING HIS STRIDE
A great thing about Brooks Orpik being a Penguin was all of us being able to watch him develop. You could see him getting better year over year with little if any setbacks. The hit on Cole pictured above gave Orpik a bad rap to overcome. By the time the Pens’ SCF appearances came around, he was the heart of the defense and playing the best hockey of his career.
Crowd was jacked.
After the first Cup Finals run in ’08, the Pens signed him to a 6-year deal, which made unlimited sense through its entirety. He was a top-pairing D-man being paid top-pairing money.
HITTING HIS 30’s
He’s shown some wear-and-tear these past couple seasons. He was Mr. Consistency in his prime, but he’s had some rough patches recently. He’s lost a little of whatever step he had to begin with, and he’s using his hockey smarts to make up for it. Basically, Orpik and the Penguins were a great match, and multiple variables came together that made 2014 the year for everyone to go their separate ways.
Some of our favorite memories in no particular order:
Farewell, Brooks Orpik. you son of a bitch.