Brooks Orpik’s contract with the Washington Capitals ends in July and his future with the organization is a virtual unknown. Will the unrestricted free agent re-sign, retire, or play next season elsewhere? Saturday morning, the defenseman showed he remained committed to the DC area despite all those lingering questions and put in some hard work to support a local rink.
Orpik and one hundred Capitals fans volunteered their time to help spruce up the historic Fort Dupont Ice Arena, the only public indoor ice arena located in Washington DC. This is the tenth consecutive year that the Capitals have organized this volunteer event at Fort Dupont.
“It’s been great, these volunteers come out consistently and we have both familiar faces and new faces and it’s really exciting to see a community that’s interested in helping other people get engaged in the sport,” said Brittany Greene, Community Outreach and Enrichment Coordinator for Friends of Fort Dupont.
The arena impacts the lives of over 3,000 kids in the area, many of them from under-served communities. Fort Dupont’s Kids on Ice program provides free and subsidized programs to teach children to skate.
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Brooks Orpik pitched in alongside 100 Caps fans this morning to help clean up and repaint DC’s historic Fort Dupont Ice Arena. Orpik credits former teammate Joel Ward with introducing him to Fort Dupont’s Kids on Ice program. (🎥: @lisseyk)
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Volunteers gave Fort Dupont a fresh coat of paint, from the locker rooms and hallways to the lobby and bleachers. Other volunteers cleaned mats and helmets, mopped floors, and washed windows and scrubbed the puck marks off the glass of the rink.
Orpik pitched in outside the rink, pulling weeds out of the sidewalks and painting the lines in the parking lot.
Brooks Orpik is a blue line specialist. pic.twitter.com/YNPcz3ynNR
— elizabeth (@of_elk) June 1, 2019
“It was really cool,” Orpik said of the experience. “It doesn’t really seem like work when you’re doing it for a project like this, with everyone sharing the same commitment.”
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Orpik credited former teammate Joel Ward with bringing him on-board at the programs at Fort Dupont like Kids on Ice. He also spoke on the impact that a Stanley Cup win, like the Capitals’ win last year, could have on the growth of hockey in a city.
Fort Dupont has been in the headlines recently as a funding crisis impacted their plans to build a new, larger facility which would include a second rink. Grassroots efforts and public support have led DC Council to reconsider whether to honor their $25 million commitment to the new facility. However, DC’s funding is dependent on Fort Dupont’s ability to raise $5 million towards the cause.
Ted Leonsis, MSE Foundation, and the NHL each contributed $100,000 in a GoFundMe towards the cause and are looking to raise awareness to gather further support. Orpik said that Capitals players were aware of Fort Dupont’s funding crisis.
“I think a lot of us players were pretty involved with what was happening this year,” Orpik said. “I know Ted Leonsis stepped up big and the NHL did as well. But I think just the growth of the game–it’s an expensive sport to play, in terms of ice time, facilities, and equipment. But really to grow the game, you have to get it into areas that can’t normally afford it but obviously, need help from people on the outside.”
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong
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