Brooks Orpik was nominated by the Professional Hockey Writers Association for the Bill Masterton Trophy, the Washington chapter of the PHWA announced before practice Thursday. Devante Smith-Pelly was the Caps nominee last season.
The Washington PHWA chapter’s Bill Masterton Trophy nominee is Brooks Orpik pic.twitter.com/Rh33hgty0R
— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) March 28, 2019
The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is awarded every year to the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey. The award was named after Bill Masterton, who is the only player in NHL history to die as a direct result of injuries suffered during a game.
Orpik’s nomination comes as the elder statesman on the team. The 38-year-old averages 15 minutes of ice time a night, and is among the teams leaders in hits and blocked shots during his tenure as a Capital.
Orpik was the 18th overall draft pick in the 2000 draft, selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins. He made his debut in the 2002-03 season with the Penguins, and during his tenure won a Stanley Cup and was named an alternate captain in 2008.
Orpik signed a five-year, $27.5 million deal with the Capitals in 2014 during the free agency period. Since then, he’s been an alternate captain every season for the club and has served as a mentor, particularly to the younger defensemen.
“All defensemen can come to him, all players will come to him on any number of issues and he’s there for them,” head coach Todd Reirden said of Orpik’s leadership. “But more often than not, some of the players don’t go to him and they just watch him and try to replicate some of the things he’s doing.”
He won his second Stanley Cup during the 2017-18 season with the Capitals, and scored a huge goal in Game Two of the Stanley Cup Final against the Vegas Golden Knights.
Orpik was then traded, along with Philipp Grubauer, to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for a second-round pick last June. The Avalanche then immediately placed Orpik on waivers for purpose of buying out the remainder of his contract.
Orpik has said he understood the trade was done for salary cap reasons, but still felt “blindsided” when he found out.
Then in July, Capitals signed Orpik back as a free-agent to a one-year, $1 million contract.
The explanation for Orpik’s nomination is as follows from the PHWA:
For his perserverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey, the Washington chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association of America names Brooks Orpik its Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy nominee.
After winning a second Stanley Cup, Orpik was traded by the Washington Capitals to the Colorado Avalanche in June, at which point the remainder of his contract was bought ought. He later re-signed with the Capitals on a one-year deal, and at 38 years old and on his 15th NHL season, Orpik acknowledged he’s “year to year,” unsure if he’ll play next season.
Despite appearing in just 48 games this season — he missed two months with a knee injury — he’s among the team’s leaders in hits and blocked shots. He played in the 1,000th game of his career on Jan. 15.
He’s been an alternate captain in Washington all five seasons he’s been with the team, the oldest player on the roster and considered a mentor in the locker room. Orpik and his wife, Erin, organized a Wish Upon a Par event for a third straight year, raising more than $100,000 with all of the proceeds going to Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic.
Here is the full list of Masterton nominees for all 31 NHL teams. The list will be narrowed to three finalists and the winner will be named at the NHL Awards in the summer.
Note: RMNB is not a member of the PHWA Washington Chapter and does not vote for award nominees.
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong
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