After lacing ’em up for one last season with the Washington Capitals in 2019, Brooks “Batya” Orpik knew what he wanted to do next: finish his degree and graduate from Boston College. Three years later, he has done just that as a member of the class of 2022.
Orpik graduated from Boston College on Tuesday, finishing his degree in communications. The 41-year-old is still working in hockey as well, serving as an assistant coach at BC and also working with the Capitals in Player Development.
“I’m going to finish my degree before I worry about doing anything after hockey,” Orpik had pledged back in April 2019. “That’s something I’m still committed to. I got to get that done.”
Named after the “Miracle” coach Herb Brooks, Orpik was destined for a career in hockey. He grew up in Amherst, New York and became a notable shutdown defenseman known for his size and ability. When it came to his future in the sport, he elected to take the NCAA route and chose to play at Boston College.
“For myself, it was definitely the whole college experience,” Orpik said back in 2019. “In case hockey didn’t work out, that was a safety net… I [tried] to find a balance where you could be good academically. Kinesiology, I was really into.”
Over three seasons with the Eagles, Orpik dished 41 points and led the team to two Hockey East titles. All the while, his play had caught the Pittsburgh Penguins‘ attention, who selected him 18th overall in the 2000 NHL Draft. In his post-draft season, he led BC to its first NCAA Championship since 1949.
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Orpik made the NHL transition starting in 2002. He was a staple on the Penguins’ blue line for 11 years, dishing 13 goals, 119 assists, 1,595 hits and 879 blocks through 703 games and winning the Stanley Cup back in 2009.
In 2014, Orpik signed with the Capitals and was a key veteran leader and stay-at-home defenseman. “Batya” had five goals, 57 assists, 961 hits and 672 blocks through 332 games in Washington and won his second title with the club in 2018. He also scored the game-winning goal for the Capitals in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.
After his final pro season in 2018-19, where he hit the 1,000-career game mark, Orpik decided to hang up the skates. He finished his career with 18 goals, 176 assists, 2,556 hits and 1,551 blocks in 1,035 career games, along with two Stanley Cups and a silver Olympic medal.
After his career, he and his family moved to Cohasset, Massachusetts. He just finished his second season as an assistant coach at Boston College and is still working in the Capitals organization, monitoring and mentoring the team’s defensive prospects in Hershey.
“I still don’t know what I’m going to do,” he laughed. “I [tried] to find a balance where you can be good academically… Kinesiology I was really into. I really wanted to later on go into that, maybe biology.”
Andre Burakovsky had called Orpik the “oldest” and “wisest” player in the dressing room in his final pro season in D.C., and now, Orpik has a degree to go with it.