by Chris Lingebach

WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — After signing a $27.5 million deal Tuesday, contractually, Brooks Orpik will now play the next five years with a Capitals team he spent his last eleven seasons lining up against, as a rival to Pittsburgh, and with which he didn’t always see eye-to-eye.

As a member of the Penguins, Orpik, in the past, has made countless claims Alex Ovechkin had intentionally attempted to hurt his teammates on the ice. Actually, the claims aren’t countless, you can read them all right here.

In an interview with Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier Wednesday, Orpik was asked to describe the feeling of now playing for his longtime rival.

“It’s probably more difficult for fans than it is for us, but maybe I’m underestimating what’s in front of me here,” Orpik said. “It will definitely be different going to Pittsburgh for the first time and playing in that building, but I’ve played against those guys internationally, so it won’t be completely new playing against some of those guys, and there’s been so much turnover in their roster this year, with the new management coming in, and I think there will be even more to come.”

“So it might not be that weird for me; I know going back there will be a little bit weird, for the first time,” he said. “I can honestly say, up until this season, I never really envisioned myself paying anywhere else. But we got about halfway through the year, and I knew it was a pretty strong possibility that we were gonna be moving on for a lot of different reasons. Yea, I don’t know. Hopefully, the Washington fans can take more of a liking to me now that I’m on their side, because I’m sure the Pittsburgh fans won’t take very long to boo me and be up against me.”

For some fans, the $5.5 million Orpik will command per season was a bit much for their tastes.

Orpik was asked about that, too, more specifically what his expectations were for his contract entering free agency, and if he was surprised at all about the terms to which the Capitals agreed to pay him.

The number he and the team eventually agreed upon was clearly on his mind, as the question prompted quite the prolonged response.

“Yea, it’s a really good question,” Orpik said. “I guess there’s a lot of different ways to answer that. I can honestly tell you, going into free agency, financially, in terms of dollar amount or terms, we really didn’t have a set number in our head, or our heads — I’m sure my agent probably did, I mean, he’s got a much better grasp of where the market’s at, and obviously with the big jump in the salary cap this year, he knew salaries were gonna go up — and I think that’s the way the league is headed.”

“The league is doing a really good job of finding ways to grow the game, and when they do that, obviously revenues kind of skyrocket with it,” he said. “So I really didn’t have a number in mind, to be honest with you. Like I said, my wife is very understanding of my needs, and my top need was I wanted to go somewhere where they were close to winning. I didn’t want to go somewhere, where you look at a situation like Buffalo — where they’re going through a complete rebuild and they have a long-term plan — I want to win wherever I go.

“And when I looked at that group, like I said, it had a lot of similarities to our group in Pittsburgh. It probably, if you look at the roster, you look at the talent, it probably underachieved the last couple of years, and there’s a lot of different reasons for that. But when I talked to Barry Trotz, he kind of laid out what his vision was and how he thought he could correct some of the problems that he thought hampered Washington the last couple years.

“It was kind of a no-brainer for me there. My agent took care of all the contract stuff, and like I said earlier, we were extremely lucky, because we had two or three options before free agency even started, that we were just hoping that those teams came after us, where I know a lot of my other buddies had a couple options, but they weren’t all that thrilled with them. We were extremely lucky there that we could kind of put money aside, and just pick what we thought would be the best fit.

“And obviously, the money was really good, and the market just kind of dictates that. I don’t know, as fair or unfair as it is, you’re always kind of judged by however much you make, probably in whatever you do. My job is just to come in there and keep doing what I’ve done to this point.”


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