Barry Trotz has a message for all those who doubt the importance of Brooks Orpik to the Caps: Sometimes, there's just no way to measure a player’s impact.
“In sport, one of the things that you can't measure is impact on people, impact in culture, impact in those intangibles,” Trotz said after Friday’s practice. “Numbers are numbers but what really counts, I mean some of the greatest things in the world, you can't measure. You really can't. Love for instance. You can't measure love. How do you measure it?”
Woah. That’s pretty deep.
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The addition of Kevin Shattenkirk to the team’s defensive core gives the Capitals eight NHL caliber defensemen. With only six spots in the lineup, however, someone will have to be bumped. Taylor Chorney was already the team’s regular healthy scratch on the blue line, but who will join him in the press box?
There are those who believe it should be Orpik.
At 36 years old, Orpik’s best hockey years are behind him. The veteran defenseman struggled in the postseason last year with zero points and 10 penalty minutes in six games. He also was given a three-game suspension for a dangerous hit to Olli Maatta.
This season, Orpik has played on the third defensive pairing alongside Nate Schmidt. He has only 12 points this season and no goals. He is also second among the team’s defensemen in penalty minutes with 36 behind only Dmitry Orlov.
For Trotz, however, you won’t find Orpik’s true importance on the stat sheet.
“Sometimes the numbers guys really don't play the game and don't understand the impact of an individual in your organization.”
Trotz added, “There's certain things you can't measure and some of those things that you can't measure are some of the most important things that are part of a player or culture, development of a player. Those things you can't measure and he's got those intangibles. That's why he's been such a valuable player for us and personally in our organization.”
Chief among those intangibles is Orpik’s leadership.
“Teams follow their leaders and he's one of our important leaders,” Trotz said. “He quietly will, not really grab a guy, but he'll quietly make a suggestion if there's someone who's maybe not acting the right way or performing the right way and I think that has a real big impact because he's so respected in the room.”
Orpik skated alongside Shattenkirk in Thursday’s game against the New Jersey Devils and it certainly appears like that is the long-term plan for him as the postseason draws closer.