- The Washington Times - Monday, January 14, 2019

ARLINGTON, Va. — Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik will play in his 1,000th career NHL game Monday night against the St. Louis Blues.

Orpik will be the 330th player to hit 1,000 games and just the 22nd active player to reach the milestone. Alex Ovechkin is the only other current Capital to hit that mark.

The 38-year-old Orpik, who was re-signed this summer for his fifth season with the Capitals, has not been one for a lot of personal attention during his career.

“I don’t hit too many milestones when it comes to points. I’m not one for surprise parties or anything individual, a lot of attention,” he told reporters Sunday. “That doesn’t really go with my personality, but I know for one day I’m just going to have to suck it up and deal with it.”

He has 17 goals and 171 assists for 188 points in his NHL career.

Orpik came to Washington after 11 years with the Pittsburgh Penguins, with whom he won a Stanley Cup ring. He was the only Capitals player with prior Stanley Cup experience entering last year’s playoffs.

Other Capitals spoke Monday about what Orpik has meant to the team.

“Brooksie’s team-first attitude — ‘team-always’ — that’s all he cares about,” Matt Niskanen said. “He wants to play well and make a difference, a positive difference with the team, but ultimately team success is all he cares about. I think that attitude is infectious.” 

“When he came in, I would say I approached the game a lot differently and I learned a lot from him,” John Carlson said. “I’m not the only one, for sure, either. But being a defenseman and knowing him just a little bit before he got here, I think it was great for me and my career. Not only how I approach the game but the locker room and leadership. He kind of checks every box in terms of professional athlete.”

Orpik’s style of play, that of a “defensive” defenseman, is seen less and less in the modern NHL. But he thinks there is still a place for blueliners like him.

“You’ve just got to be able to keep up with the speed of the game,” Orpik said. “If you weren’t willing to adjust how you trained or maybe shed some weight, that would push you out of the league. Not necessarily kind of what your role was. But there’s that and there’s obviously more of an emphasis on being able to move the puck up quickly.”

Niskanen echoed that opinion.

“The game seems to be making a shift toward other styles of play, but Brooksie’s adapted,” Niskanen said. “The league was a lot different when he first started. He’s adapted and has been an effective player for a long time through two drastically different styles of play. Kudos to him for finding a way to be an effective player for that long.”

The Capitals plan to honor Orpik with a pregame ceremony Friday before they play the New York Islanders and their former coach, Barry Trotz. Orpik will receive gifts from the team and the league to mark the milestone.

• Adam Zielonka can be reached at azielonka@washingtontimes.com.

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