Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Bye, Bye Brooks Orpik

Hey Brooks,

How ya doing buddy?  Do me a favor and have a seat over here real quick like.

Look... this isn't easy.  At all.  We've been through a lot together.  In thick and thin.  You were a part of this team when it was the absolute worst in the league, before Fleury, Malkin, Crosby, et al.  You were a young buck on a young team that should have been full of promise but ended up largely duds. You were the exception to the rule.  You succeeded when no one else but Ryan Malone truly did.

You rose through the ranks.  You were demoted to wing by Michel Therrien, bit your tongue and gutted it out.  You kept your head down and played your heart out, game in and game out.  Your game was simple: Smart defensive play and big, crunching hits.  You took less money in a contract year to stay with the team that drafted you.

Your reward?  Two trips to the Finals and a Stanley Cup ring.

Not just the ring, but The Shift.

It cemented your legacy as one beloved by the Penguins fan base.  It set you apart.  It elevated you.

You were the replacement for Darius Kasparitis.  You were the player everyone looked to for the big hit or solid defensive positioning.  You were the leader by example on a young team looking to grow from within.

The problem: You were these things.

Now?  I love you, Brooks, but you're no longer those things.  Your attempts to throw the big hit are usually missed, the player blowing by you or your trajectory off.  Your positioning?  It's been bad.  Very bad.  Horrendously bad.  Your attempts at leadership come off as "Do as I say, not as I do."  It's off putting.

You've slowed down and your decision making has as well.  Your play has suffered as age and injuries have caught up to you.  We all knew it would happen.  Your style of play, tough and gritty, will have that effect on a player.  We've seen it time and time again.  It was bound to happen but the time has come.

I will miss you, Brooks.   I truly will.  I had hopes you'd be the blue collar guy to retire and spend his whole career in Pittsburgh.  However your contract is coming up and you deserve one big pay day to end your career.

You just don't deserve it here.

I wish you luck and success on your next team with your big retirement contract.  I hope you are happy.  I will always love you for what you did for this team, the huge part you played in its storied history.  I look forward to the day your number is on the Pens Hall of Fame in the front lobby of Consol.

Your time as a Penguin, however, has met its end.  You're always going to be a favorite but your place on the team is taken.  There's only room for one slow, defensive void of an anchor on the blue line.  Ray Shero's mistake of a contract to Rob Scuderi sealed your fate.

We'll miss you, buddy.  Good luck on your next stop.

Now stop staring at me like that.

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