With Penguins training camp about six weeks away, they find themselves short one assistant captain.
The guy who previously held that position has since packed his bags and headed to Ottawa.
Brooks Orpik would seem like the most logical replacement considering he’s previously taken that title when Sergei Gonchar was out of the lineup.
Teams expect certain tendencies from their leaders. If Billy Guerin decides to go elsewhere this offseason, the Pens are in a world of hurt when it comes to leadership.
Guerin was able to come into this organization and get its superstars grounded. He also helped the locker room get loose. Those qualities are what made the difference between the 2008 and 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins.
It’s been documented countless times that the Pens' current captain leads by example. Last season, Sidney Crosby showed everyone just how it’s done. When a player says he is going to shoot more and make winning face-offs a priority, you never expect the results that Sidney delivered.
Evgeni Malkin, who wears the only “A” right now, tends to be shy and is cut from the same cloth as Crosby in regards to leading by example. He may not be the most vocal guy when he’s not joking around, but he leads by producing on the ice.
Honestly, that’s all one could ask from Crosby and Malkin. They are two of the most down-to-earth superstars in the league. That is a great attitude to have, especially when they are the leaders of the team.
The Pens need another dynamic thrown into the mix in regards to naming captains. Brooks Orpik undeniably fits that dynamic.
What is the dynamic? Well, it’s a combination of leading by example and having the ability to speak up and motivate the locker room when the time comes.
Orpik is a guy who plays with heart regardless of whether he’s at 100 percent or not. He’s also a guy willing to point out the shortcomings of his team, even to the media. He’s one of the few players in the league who is always up front and honest. When he makes statements to the media, sometimes they are hard to swallow. He always seems to give key insight on problems when they arise.
That’s the type of guy I would want to be an assistant captain on my team: a guy that’s willing to point out mistakes and work with his team to fix them, rather than make things worse.
I think that since Gonchar is gone, Orpik becomes the Penguins' most coveted defenseman. He has the most experience, he’s proven how valuable he is, and he’s a guy a lot of players respect.
I think Orpik's style is the reason people respect him. He’s one of the most brutal hitters in the game. His defensive skills aren’t too shabby either. Combine those two aspects with the heart he plays with, and you have yourself a franchise defenseman. That’s the type of defenseman worthy of having an “A” on his jersey.
I’m pretty sure that the Pens have him penciled in to be the other assistant captain. It would be a shame if he’s not. It’s Orpik’s time to lead the new corps of defensemen. There’s honestly no one else on the roster who could be that perfect complement to the two superstars the Pens have serving as captains right now.
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