dmitry-orlov

Photo credit: Justin K. Aller

Coming into training camp, Washington Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov was looking forward to his third full season of hockey in North America. A couple of months into the season though, his hopes and expectations remain unfulfilled, as Orlov started the season in Hershey, then lost some time battling an eye infection, and then spent the rest of the time alternating between a healthy scratch with the Caps and an occasional game or two with the Bears. While there had been speculation regarding the reasons behind Dima’s numerous short-term assignments to Hershey followed by gameless call-ups to the Capitals, last night, The Washington Post’s Katie Carrera’s finally shone light on this mystery – a special clause in Orlov’s contract allows him to sign a deal in the KHL if he is not on NHL roster for at least 30 days this season by January 1st.

Just a couple of hours before the Capitals announced that Orlov was returned to Hershey for the fifth time this season, we caught up with Dima after the Caps’ morning practice and talked about the situation and how he is handling it.

Dmitry Orlov: This situation – not playing in many games, being a healthy scratch – is happening for the first time in my career. It’s not easy; of course, I have to adjust to this. I try to work out more at the gym, ride the stationary bike, run sprints – stuff like that; I must keep myself in shape, so I can jump in and play at any time. And when they say I have to go back to Hershey, I get to play there right away, so I must maintain readiness at all time. I try to stay in good enough shape so that when I get an opportunity to play, I’ll be ready to show what I can do from the very first shift.

Yeah, it is hard to deal with this situation. But I have to – it is not the end of the world. When I am told that I am being sent down to Hershey – I actually feel good about it, because I know I am going to get to play hockey, which is what I love to do. And I try to help the team there and produce results. I get better with every game I play there, and I help the team. It is experience, and you have to take the best from it.

We can only imagine how hard it is for a 22-year-old to grow as a hockey player when he spends so much of his time either as a healthy scratch or driving back and forth between Washington and Hershey. And it is not any easier to deal with this situation on a personal level, so I asked Dima what he does to avoid letting this uncertainty get the better of him.

Dmitry Orlov: It’s very difficult to shuttle back and forth. I don’t really know the answer to this question. I am just trying to hold on and keep myself together, try to find something positive… yes, that’s the situation I am in – but what can I do? I can’t just give up. My girlfriend is here now, and that of course helps me deal with this situation. I am not alone; I can always talk to her about things. She helps me, she understands and supports me.

As always, Dima tried to remain upbeat and cheerful during our chat, but it was obvious that the current predicament was weighing on his mind. It appeared that he really had set his expectations at a pretty high level for this year, put in a lot of effort over the summer and now, through no apparent fault of his own, is not given a chance to find out if his hard work and dedication would finally pay off at the NHL level.

Dmitry Orlov: I thought I really prepared well during this off-season. I worked very hard, I was in good shape. But now, of course it’s hard to measure how well I prepared for the season, because I don’t get to play that often. With such large gaps between games, I can’t really tell how successful my summer training was. As soon as I get to play regularly, I’ll be able to tell if the summer preparations paid off. I don’t think my game has changed a lot this season from the last one. Maybe, because I only get to play so infrequently, whenever I do get in a game, I have so much desire to play. Of course, the desire should be like that regardless of how often you play.

Adam Oates’ steadfast preference for playing defensemen on their strong side is well known, while left-shooting Orlov actually spent most of his hockey life playing on the right side, so I asked Dima how comfortable he feels with the switch at this point.

Dmitry Orlov: I did get to play both on the left and on the right of defense in Hershey this year. Of course, I still feel more comfortable on the right, that’s understandable, I played there my whole life, but if the coach thinks it’s better when everybody plays on their strong side – I understand that. And I agree, in some situations it does give you an advantage if you are on your strong side. Every coach has his own perspective on that; our job as players is to execute what the coach says.

And now, of course we move to everybody’s favorite topic: can Dima tell us anything new about his buddy Evgeny Kuznetsov’s ever-changing plans for joining the Capitals? What are the chances we’ll see Kuzya in Caps uniform before the end of this season?

Dmitry Orlov: I talk to Zhenya often; I am glad he recovered from his injury so quickly and is back on the ice. I also know he is getting ready to try himself here, he really wants to, and the team is ready for him as well. This year? I think it all depends on how their [Traktor] season turns out. But of course I cannot speak for him, anything is possible.

And with that, Dima left Kettler for his afternoon nap – only to be awakened by the latest news of his reassignment to Hershey. Again.

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  • animalvegtablemineralman

    Ug, forget any or all of us that think he is a perfect solution for possession woes in the short term, this poor kid is breaking my heart. I really feel for him

  • Bob

    my spidey sense is telling me he will be traded or will pack up for the KHL soon

  • John Shisler

    At least he isn’t whining like some people are. He is doing his best to get better. For his sake, I pray he gets a shot soon and is able to show the Caps what they’ve been missing.

  • Pat Magee

    He’s such a great kid. Hopefully Oates doesn’t ruin his spirit next….

  • CapsCast

    The rumor in Hershey during the lockout was that Oates wasn’t a fan of Orlov’s game. The reality is that Oates has gone out of his way not to play him this season. Orlov was bumped for Schmidt (pink eye,) they picked up Urbom on waivers, and started the season with Erskine (who wasn’t 100%) in the top 4. With this yo-yo act up and down I-83 every couple of days, I can only think GMGM is shopping him, because they sure don’t seem to want to play him.

  • William

    My only question is: Why not just give him a shot?

  • Alex

    That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. If they were trying to shop him around, wouldn’t they want him to play so that other GMs could see what he’s made of? When Jeff Schultz was on the block, they played him right away and even had Vancouver’s GM in McPhee’s box. He had a pretty good night defensively, if I remember correctly. If they were serious about trying to trade Orlov, wouldn’t it make more sense to play him and try to make him look good in order to peak the interest of the other GMs?

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    Same here. Dude’s not a whiner. He’s a winner.

    And I don’t know who’s to blame for this whole mess, but he’s better than about 3 of the guys who are getting jerseys every night.

  • CapsCast

    I agree it’s a head-scratcher, but why else would they want to hang on to his rights if they aren’t looking to play him? His ELC is up at the end of this season as well. They could either play him, trade him, or let him walk.

  • dylan wheatley

    awesome reporting guys.

  • John Shisler

    He’s letting his agent handle the business side and he’s handling the hockey side. Hopefully he gets his shot sooner rather than later. We’ve seen what he can do, not give him the chance to do it in the NHL again.

  • Freedoooom

    He’s better than Oleksy and Strachan, but he was cursed with having a left handed shot.

    What a joke. I’m getting tired of Oates real quick. Only Canadians allowed to play on wrong side.

  • William

    To Adam Oates: WHO GIVES A DAMN WHAT SIDE HE SHOOTS

  • Catherine__M

    Trade maybe, but he’s being shuttled back and forth like this to fulfill the letter (if not the spirit) of his contract so that he is contractually unable to leave for the KHL.

  • johnnymorte

    Go ahead and trade him GMGM. Then he could end up flourishing somewhere else like Varly and Perrault. If you feel the same way as you did about Carly or Alzner, than you need to play him. Let Oates run the team, because either you’re a liar or you got no balls.

  • Zank

    Im sure Kuznetsov is real eager to come over here now after he hears about the way the Capitals treat their prospects.

  • Red

    I’ve been looking forward to the twin Os (Orlov-Oleksy) line for a year now. Think about it. It would be like a hip-check fire sale giveaway! I need this in my life.

  • djlotus

    #FREEDIMA

    With any luck, he will finally get a chance to play and prove he belongs here. He is a top 4 guy for this organization. I hope we don’t lose him. Oates needs to make exceptions to his rule which will allow him to put the best team on the ice, not the best team in which all ayers are playing on their strong sides. It is seriously hurting more than helping at this point.

  • M Nathani

    and now he’s requested a trade!

  • djlotus

    I don’t have Twittier but i was just told that CSN tweeted Dima has asked to be traded. Any truth to this?

  • Lawrence

    Yes its true. CSNWashington tweet: BREAKING: Per our #Caps insider @ChuckGormleyCSN, Dmitry Orlov has requested a trade. More to come on http://CSNWashington.com . #CapitalsTalk

    But I don’t think that’s really all that different from what he said the other day is it? It’s pretty obvious he just wants to play somewhere.

  • djlotus

    What a f*cking joke this franchise is. Asset mismanagement has led to 2 trade requests before December. GMGM has another thing coming if he thinks Kuzya is actually going to come here to play.

    #FIREGMGM
    #FREEDIMA
    #FREEBEAGLE

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    It seemed clear they were asking for a trade yesterday. I guess CSN’s just yaki’ng Katie’s news from yesterday and acting like they reported it on their own to look good.

  • northernMD

    When an agent says “Seeing the situation, George needs to cut his losses and get the best deal he can. As you can imagine, there’s no chance in hell Dmitry is going to sign with the Capitals for next season.” … thats not a good sign. I mean saying that you’d have to take away jersey’s from schmidt or urbom and using that as a reason to not play orlov is a joke. http://www.csnwashington.com/hockey-washington-capitals/talk/orlovs-agent-demands-trade

  • OlietheGoalie

    I like Oates. A lot. I think he can do good things here.

    BUT some of this roster management is downright baffling. Dima deserves to play. And Erat… well yeah, the trade was a disaster from day one but we should have at least used him better. Or even to his skills.

  • Aaron

    You do realise it’s Adam Oates that makes the decisions on the line-up and on the scratches, right? The fact that Orlov’s not been playing while he’s been with the Caps is on Oates and no one else. The GM constructs the 23-man roster, and the Head Coach picks the 20 he wants to play in a game – for better or for worse, this sits with Adam Oates.

  • Auntbea

    Real good interview. I always appreciate hearing directly from the player and not just the agent.
    Not as high on Oates as I had been. Orlov would be a better bet than others getting playing time right now.

    With 2 caps demanding/requesting trades this week, I was wondering else what other caps have gone public in recent years Shultz(?), Nylander… Others?

  • Shaun Phillips

    I really think Oates is better suited to an assistant coach job. He’s been masterful with the PP and (had been) with the PK. His 5v5 and line combinations/roster decisions have been beyond baffling. When the head coach starts making good players want to leave, time to reconsider the coaching decision…