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Capitals, Penguins star Orpik calls it a career

Brooks Orpik called it a career Tuesday after 15 bruising NHL seasons in which he established himself as a big-hitting, shutdown defenseman and won the Stanley Cup twice.

The 38-year-old played 1,171 regular-season and playoff games for the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals. He won the Cup with Pittsburgh in 2009 and Washington in 2018.

“I’ve been extremely lucky to have the best job in the world for many years, but my body is telling me it is time to move on to something new,” Orpik said. “I’m excited for more family time and to experience a lot of the things that being a professional athlete forces you to miss out on.”

Orpik was more known for his physicality and defense than his offense. He put up 194 regular-season and 26 playoff points but also scored the Game 2-winning goal for Washington in the 2018 final on the way to the franchise’s first title.

“We wouldn’t have a Stanley Cup if it wasn’t for him,” Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby said at the end of this season. “The impact he’s had on our team is probably second to none, the way he’s changed the culture and pushed guys to make them better. One of the true leaders in our game.”

Orpik became a respected alternate captain and leader during his five seasons in Washington. Teammates nicknamed him “Batya” — Russian for “Dad.”

“Batya was a great leader in our locker room and was so important for us to win our first Stanley Cup,” captain Alex Ovechkin said in a statement Wednesday. “We will miss his presence in the room and on the ice. Not only was he a great leader and a player, but he was a better person. I’m so happy I had a chance to play with him and for our young guys to have had the chance to learn from him.”

Orpik implied throughout this season it could be his last in the NHL. He had surgery in November to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.

“Trying to maintain that level, efficiency was tough,” Orpik said. “So I think there were times of the year, I was frustrated just that I couldn’t do what I wanted to do.”

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