The masterful work of Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan with respect to the contract of veteran defenseman Brooks Orpik was apparently the subject of much scrutiny by the NHL this past offseason. Orpik, of course, was dealt to the Colorado Avalanche as part of a package deal that included goaltender Philip Grubauer. Orpik was then bought out of his contract by the Avs and subsequently re-signed by the Caps. In effect, the Capitals saved themselves $5 million in cap space for this season, Orpik ends up making the same money he would otherwise AND he remains on the team’s roster for the upcoming season. I mean… that’s just cap circumvention at it’s absolute finest.
It’s no surprise then that the NHL investigated the matter and considered fining MacLellan and the Capitals organization for the creative maneuvering. In the end no discipline was handed out, but now Orpik is admitting that he’s been urged to keep things “hush hush” on a direct order from the NHL.
Check out some of these quotes from Orpik’s interview with DC sports talk radio station 106.7 The Fan:
“I can’t really talk about much to be honest with you. It’s kind of like an agreement with the league that I’m not really allowed to talk much about it,” Orpik said, citing an NHL investigation into the matter that MacLellan first brought up last week.
“There was a lot of stuff behind the scenes that didn’t really have much to do with hockey that factored into me coming back here,” Orpik said. “Mine was more a family decision, more than it was a hockey decision. That’s something that I kind of had to talk to the league about.”
Interesting. It’s also worth pointing out that MacLellan stated in an earlier interview that he believes the NHL’s investigation into the matter began when a rival team, perhaps the Pittsburgh Penguins or New York Islanders alerted heard office to a potential CBA violation.
Check out these quotes courtesy of Caps blog Russian Machine Never Breaks:
Both the Capitals and Orpik feel that the controversy was initiated by another team, if not multiple teams. “I would assume there are some teams are involved,” is all MacLellan would allow.
The hunch here is that the Penguins were one of those teams. Perhaps former head coach Barry Trotz and his new team, the Islanders, were as well?
According to the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement, when a team buys a player out they cannot immediately re-sign him to try and cut costs. Because Orpik was bought out by the Avalanche, not the Caps, he was able to re-sign with DC.
Again… another interesting theory. Unfortunately, with Orpik seemingly under a gag order from the NHL, we may never really know the truth surrounding this incident.