Brooks Orpik underwent an arthroscopic surgical procedure on his right knee and is expected to miss four-to-six weeks, the Capitals announced Tuesday. Orpik last played on Oct. 27 against the Calgary Flames, but has not participated in practice since due to what the team has called a lower-body injury.
Why did it take so long to have the surgery when he could have been recovering and nearing a return at this point? The specific nature of the injury is not known, but what typically happens in cases such as these is that the player and the team will wait to see if surgery is necessary. No professional athlete likes going under the knife and most will try to avoid it at all costs.
It could also be a case in which the severity of the injury was not known as is evidenced by the fact that he was initially labeled “day-to-day.”
With Orpik out, that will likely mean more time for Madison Bowey who has looked like one of the most improved players overall on the roster this season. It also likely gives an opportunity for Jonas Siegenthaler to get more games at the NHL level.
Siegenthaler has been with the Caps since getting recalled from the Hershey Bears on Nov. 9. He has played in two games. Originally, it looked like the young Swiss defenseman would make the Caps’ roster out of training camp with Michal Kempny dealing with a concussion, but the team had to get creative with the salary cap after Tom Wilson was suspended and the acquisition of Dmitrij Jaskin forced Siegenthaler to the AHL.
In his two NHL games, Siegenthaler has not looked out of place at all at the NHL level.
If he remains with the team, it seems likely he will get into the lineup again sooner rather than later. As a young prospect the team hopes can be an NHL player, they will be loath to keep him in Washington another four to six weeks just to sit up in the press box and not play. Young players like him need the playing time.
With Orpik out possibly until the calendar turns to 2019, however, do not be surprised if the Caps elect to recall a player like Aaron Ness and send Siegenthaler back to Hershey. Ness is a veteran AHLer who the team can be more comfortable scratching from the lineup for a long period of time. If they don’t, then expect to see Siegenthaler crack the lineup again in the coming days.
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So what happens in the front office when a player like Alex Smith is injured in the middle of a game? Former Washington Redskins general manager Charley Casserly spoke to NBC Sports Washington about what happened in his experience when a player was injured.
Every Friday, I would have a meeting. I would go through scenarios for every position on our 53-man roster. If we lost any player, what was our scenario?
This isn’t done in a vacuum – every day, certainly in the offseason, your coaches are involved with personnel. Grading players. You’re talking to your head coach almost every day about players so you know how he thinks. Now, I was never with a head coach that wanted to discuss an emergency list on Friday so I had a pretty good idea of where his thinking was, where our scouts' thinking was going into the game.
I remember one time when we were in Houston. We lost a nose tackle in the first half and we had his replacement on the plane by the end of the game because it was that cut and dry. We knew who we would sign. And you’re in competition with 31 other teams so you can’t wait around.
Now, sometimes, it’s not cut and dry. You didn’t have a guy in training camp, or you didn’t have a guy who you had worked out earlier in the year.
We’d do that sometimes – we’d bring in guys to work out even though we didn’t need anybody. So we would have the workout done and we would just bring them in. We’d make sure they were still in shape, but we didn’t have to have a tryout of three or four people. So with the Redskins, I’m sure you’re sitting there, you have an emergency list and you go to the emergency list. You talk to the coach right after the game, in this case, and get the coach’s opinion. He may want to get their opinion. And then you’re on the phone and the potential replacement’s on the plane that night.
They’re operating on a short week, so they have to bring a guy in on Sunday and have him working out on Monday so you can sign him and put him right in the meeting room. Normally, you could do it on Tuesday for a Sunday game.
Someone from the operations staff picks them up from the airport in a regular car and nobody ever had an issue with that. You bring them in the right before. We give them a written schedule. We put him through a workout – we usually had our coaches work him out. Sometimes if the coaches weren’t available, it would be the scouts. Then he would meet with the position coach. They would at least see the head coach – if we signed him, of course, he’d meet the head coach.
We filmed the workouts, so we could take a look at him. We’d have scouts grade the workouts and write a report on him. The coaches would get a copy of the schedule, they get bios and scouting reports of the players coming in so they would know a bit about him when they met him.
There’s a simple reason why you work him out. These guys, they have to go right out and practice. We had guys that would come in on Tuesday that couldn’t get through a practice and you want them to go out in practice, so they’re not going to be any good to you – let alone play them in a game.
Most of the time we’d have him run a 40 and really the second 40, if it was far off his first, it would tell us something about his conditioning. We knew we wouldn’t get top performances because while they were out of camp, you’re not sure what kind of shape he was in. We knew they were all training, but the question is, how hard were they training?
So that’s the procedure. You talk to the agent, usually, there’s not much negotiating in the deal. Who called them varied – oftentimes it was who knew the agent the best. Or it could be the contract negotiator. Or sometimes, when I was the general manager, it could be me.
You sign them to a one-year contract.
It’s usually cut-and-dry because they want to play and many times you don’t have extra money to fool with and they understand that.
When you bring in a lot of guys to try out, it tells you that it's a true tryout. If you're bringing in two guys, you may bring in two just to bring one in. You may bring in two because you want to be covered in case the one you think you're going with doesn't work out.
So when you bring in multiple guys (like the Redskins did), it tells you it's true tryout.
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