Brooks Orpik has been around now going on forever. He started in Pittsburgh way back in the 2002-2003 season, playing a full slate in the NHL the next year. After some rough seasons, the Penguins were able to succeed through failure, drafting Marc-Andre Fleury, Evgeny Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal in consecutive years. Things got better.
Orpik stuck with the Penguins until the end of the 2014 season, meaning his entire 20s were spent in western Pennsylvania. Initially known for a high number of penalty minutes, his time in the box came down, and his effectiveness on defense improved. He was never a candidate for any awars, but he was there for his team to win the Stanley Cup in 2009.
After all that time in the Penguins organization, it was a bit controversial when he went to Washington, the primary rival of his home for so long. Of course, these things don’t particularly matter to a professional athlete. You go where you are needed, and Orpik was needed in Washington. He was just as reliable on the Caps’ blue line as he was in Pittsburgh, but it would be hard to call him exceptional.
Now in 2016, however, he may be having his best season of his career. His +/- is a t +7 already, which is indicative of a very hot start, particularly when his career average is about +5 for a season. He has tallied 3 assists, and even his advanced metrics, indicate that the Caps are doing better in possession when he is on the ice.
The Caps brass seem more enamored of the influence he has had on younger players that are skating with him. Nate Schmidt has been allowed to be more aggressive offensively, knowing that Orpik was anchoring the blue line. Allowed to play his own game, it’s one of the reasons Orpik has seen his numbers go up. Brooks Orpik paid his dues in Pittsburgh, and he was rewarded. Now in Washington, he’s spreading that wealth.