I’ll never forget the day then-Penguins GM Craig Patrick chose defenseman Brooks Orpik with the 18th overall pick at the 2000 NHL Entry Draft.
Having been fed a steady diet of Robert Domes, Milan Krafts, and Konstantin Koltzovs the selection of Orpik signaled an abrupt change in the Pens’ drafting philosophy.
“In the past, we haven’t emphasized the toughness as much,” head scout Greg Malone said. “Going into this draft, we wanted to work on the size and grit.”
They got it—in spades. In stark contrast to his high-flying predecessors, Orpik kept the game brutally simple. The embodiment of announcer Mike Lange’s bulldozer in a construction yard, the Boston College grad was a bowling ball on skates. The opposition were his ten pins.
“A rugged defenseman who plays the game with a snarl and uses his 6-3, 230-pound frame to punish opponents,” wrote Dejan Kovacevic.
“A hard, hard hitter,” Patrick remarked.
Boy, was he ever. Following a two-year apprenticeship with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Orpi