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Season Review: Brooks Orpik

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins
At the end of the season, the Penguins players hold a vote for the Player’s Player Award, given to the player they feel best exemplifies leadership both on and off the ice and is dedicated to teamwork.


They made a fitting selection when they gave it to defenseman Brooks Orpik.

Orpik, 30, is the longest-tenured Penguin, having been in the organization since being drafted in 2000. The team’s vocal leader and respected locker-room presence has played over 500 career NHL games in seven-plus seasons with Pittsburgh, and his value to the team cannot be understated.

Brooks Orpik (Credit: Getty Images)
With the departure of former defense partner Sergei Gonchar last summer, Orpik was coupled with Kris Letang on Pittsburgh’s top defensive pairing to begin the 2010-11 campaign. Orpik’s stay-at-home style provided the perfect complement to Letang’s more offensive-minded play, and his veteran presence helped the young blueliner grow and develop.

Orpik was also named the team’s Defensive Player of the Year at the team awards ceremony for his shutdown abilities, which continually pitted him against the other team’s top players. The way Orpik is able to effectively stifle the NHL’s top guns on a nightly basis never ceases to impress his teammates.

“It is amazing,” defenseman Ben Lovejoy said. “He is not playing against guys who aren’t trying to score. These guys are coming at him and trying to make plays. Even when he may not have anything left in the tank he is still in position and still making plays, and he is still playing really hard defense.”

Those same shutdown abilities also put him on the ice when the Penguins were shorthanded. Orpik finished as the team’s top penalty killing blueliner, logging 3:44 minutes per game on the NHL’s No. 1-ranked PK.

But while Orpik’s prowess in his own end is invaluable, what makes him such a special player is his physically punishing brand of hockey. He led the Penguins in hits for a sixth-straight season with 194, despite being sidelined for a total of 19 games with injuries.

One of the best moments of Orpik’s season came when he laid a bone-crushing hit on Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos in Game 1 of the Penguins’ first-round matchup with the Lightning, which set the tone for the series.

Orpik underwent lower abdominal/hernia surgery on his right side on July 20 in Pittsburgh. His recovery is expected to take 6-8 weeks, and the Penguins look forward to getting their veteran leader back to full health.

RELIVE ORPIK'S HIT ON STAMKOS:





WATCH: THE BEST OF BROOKS ORPIK







2010-11 SEASON HIGHLIGHTS



2011 PLAYOFFS:
Posted three assists in seven games … Three assists were second-most (tied) on team … Topped team with 3:42 shorthanded minutes per game while logging 24:11 total minutes per game … Notched team-best 22 hits … Recorded first career multi-point and multi-assist postseason game with two helpers in Game 1.

2010-11:
Physically imposing defenseman led team with 194 hits … Placed fourth on team with 94 blocked shots … Recorded 13 points (1+12) and plus-12 rating in 66 games … Team’s top penalty killing blueliner logged 3:44 shorthanded minutes per game for the NHL’s No. 1-ranked PK … Named team’s Defensive Player of the Year … Voted by his teammates for the Player’s Player Award, given to the player that exemplifies leadership on and off the ice and is dedicated to teamwork … Played his 500th career NHL game Feb. 11 at NY Islanders … Missed 13 games with a hand injury.





REGULAR SEASON STAT CHART



GP G A P PIM +/- HITS
63 1 12 13 66 +12 194


PLAYOFFS STAT CHART



GP G A P PIM +/- HITS
7 0 3 3 14 -2 22




PHOTO GALLERY: BROOKS ORPIK










Photos courtesy of Getty Images

  Click here to view the full photo gallery of Brooks Orpik during the 2010-11 season!



Author: Michelle Crechiolo
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