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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Change Of Heart For Orpik?

I'm a little perplexed right now about what to think with this scenario. First I hear that Brooks Orpik doesn't like Michael Therrien. Now all of a sudden according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Orpik and the Penguins are sitting down in serious contract talks.

Let me explain my side of this.

Brooks Orpik is and has been one of my favorite Penguins players for quite some time now and not just because he went to Boston College. The profile may say New Jersey, but I'm a Boston boy by birthright.

As a Penguins fan how can you not like the style of play he brings? Has he taken a couple cheap shots? Yes and a couple guys got injured that didn't need to. Here's the thing though, I don't get the impression from other people that they think he's a cheap shot artist.

He's a hard nosed, physical defenseman who will put you through the boards so you can enjoy little Timmy's popcorn and soda in the front row.

Now it's pretty well known that Orpik doesn't like Therrien but according to This Article Orpik wants to stay in Pittsburgh and would be willing to sign for less than he could get elsewhere if we sign him long term.

Why wouldn't we do this? He played the latter part of the season on the top defensive pairing with Sergei Gonchar. He's not going to put up points, but hes the only real physical defenseman the Pens have.

(Side note: Yes Hal Gill could be considered a physical presence. That's about all he is. He's great on the PK, but did anyone see how awful he looked in the Finals against Detroit? In Game 1 alone he cost the Pens two goals. The second of which he gets taken to town by Mikael Samuelsson who's giving up about seven inches and 60 pounds. I did not like this deal when we made it and had a sinking feeling that it would come back and bite us eventually. I'm not saying that Gill is the sole reason we lost the Cup, but he looked lost and helpless against the speedy Red Wings.)

I'm going to tread on thin ice as it were and say this. As a fan and strictly a fan, te Devils are the one team I would love to see never win another Stanley Cup. Doesn't seem like this fits in with the rest of this post right? Before you jump all on me Devil fans let me explain.

From a hockey observer's standpoint the Devils have found a successful way to win for many years and proved that even with a mass exodus over the past few years, the system rewards players who buy into it. Is the system a fun brand of hockey to watch? I don't think so and I enjoy 1-0 games more than the 5-4 games. The difference here is that the Devils play a boring pace of hockey that wins. Plain and simple.

Chew on that for a second.

Now, who was the anchor for those Cup winning Devils teams? Brodeur? Rafalski? No.

Scott Stevens.

I can see the lightbulbs turning on in your heads.

Is Brooks Orpik like a younger Scott Stevens? Not necessarily, but there are similarities in their play styles. Personally, I think some of the hits Stevens unleashed were riding the thin line of clean and cheap, but no one can question the tenacity he played with.

Orpik has that kind of warrior tenacity. The one shift that will live on forever in Penguins lore is when he took 4 different Red Wings to the ice in all of 45 seconds. That may have been the greatest shift of the playoffs by any player on any team.

Now here's the other common thread between the two. If you'll recall, Stevens suffered a concussion in an early season game against the Penguins during the 2003-04 season.

Who's the man who dropped the hammer down on Stevens and effectively ended his career?

Yep. Brooks Orpik.

Granted Stevens was all cleared and healthy to play in the 2004-05 seaso, but never got the chance due to a little thing called a lockout. I don't know much about that either, but it can't be good. That whole year was one big blur and I may or may not have been in a self-induced coma.

Anyway, with the hopes of Ryan Malone and Marian Hossa returning slowly spiraling downward, we need to sign Orpik right now.

When it comes down to it, you have to ask yourself a very simple question.

Do you want to play for a city that loves you and a very good chance of winning the Stanley Cup?


Do you want to play for a paycheck and like the coach?

I think we all know the answer to that question.

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