Liam O’Brien, a fan favorite, is moving on. After six seasons in the Washington Capitals organization, O’Brien has signed an AHL contract with the American Hockey League’s Colorado Eagles.
The 26-year-old O’Brien scored 29 points in 59 games last season for the Hershey Bears. The Halifax native had not played in the NHL since the 2017-18 season where he dressed for three games with the Capitals.
Hershey Bears tribute video
Six years with the Bears. 370 games, 137 points, 638 penalty minutes, and a lifelong impact on Chocolatetown and the Central PA community.
Thank you @OfficialBigTuna. Good luck with the @ColoradoEagles! pic.twitter.com/vS8ocjbhKp
— Hershey Bears (@TheHersheyBears) November 27, 2020
“I would like to first thank the @thehersheybears and the @capitals for an incredible 6 years!” O’Brien wrote on Instagram shortly after the signing was announced. “So many amazing memories were made from scoring my first NHL goal to playing in my first ever outdoor game. Thank you!
“To my coaches, teammates, management, staff and all of the people behind the scenes (You know who you are!). Thank you for your friendship, your belief in me and helping me grow and develop into a better player and person. I wish you guys all the best this year!
“To Hershey Bears fans, thank you for all of your love and support from the start to finish. I will miss playing at the GC in front of you! It was truly an honor!
“I am excited for the challenge ahead of me in Colorado!”
O’Brien, who went undrafted, became a household name in Washington after receiving a training camp invite in 2014 from the Capitals. O’Brien exceeded expectations during the tryout and made the Capitals’ Opening Night roster along with rookie defenseman Connor Carrick. The forward would go on to play his first NHL game on October 9, 2014, against the Montreal Canadiens and score his first NHL point, an assist, five days later against San Jose.
During that same Sharks game, O’Brien, who skated with a confidence like he was ten feet tall and bulletproof, wagged his tongue out at John Scott, one of the largest and most feared enforcers in the NHL, during a melee.
He’d later recreate the moment for a fan at a Capitals’ season-ticket holder event.
O’Brien would score his first NHL goal on October 26, 2014, against the Vancouver Canucks.
During his time in the Capitals organization, O’Brien fought some of the biggest enforcers in the sport including Ryan Reaves, Patrick Maroon, Ross Johnston, Brandon Prust, and Tom Sestito.
During a May playoff game between the Bears and Baby Pens, O’Brien and Sestito’s beef made its way onto social media where O’Brien told Sestito “you really can’t fix stupid” and to “take the rocks out of your head, the marbles out of your mouth and for god sakes fix that hairline.”
O’Brien was a beloved teammate both in Washington and Hershey. He was also one of the rare professional hockey players that understood that hockey is a game and not meant to be taken so dang seriously.
Liam would interact with fans on social media and constantly bring happiness to others.
Good luck in Colorado, Liam!
WINDSOR, CO. – The Colorado Eagles, proud AHL affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche, have announced that the team has signed forward Liam O’Brien to an AHL contract for the 2020-21 season. O’Brien has spent the previous six seasons with the AHL’s Hershey Bears, notching 63 goals, 74 assists and 638 penalty minutes in 370 contests. In addition, the 6-foot-1, 215-pound center has seen action in 17 NHL games, posting one goal, one assist and 28 PIM’s with the Washington Capitals.
O’Brien collected 10 goals and 19 assists in 59 games with the Bears during the 2019-20 campaign, while also leading the team with 83 penalty minutes. The Halifax, Nova Scotia native has posted at least 100 PIM’s in four of his six seasons with Hershey. Prior to reaching the professional level, O’Brien spent five seasons in the QMJHL with Rimouski Oceanic and the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, amassing 95 points and 493 PIM’s in 261 total contests. He would also serve as the Huskies’ team captain during the 2013-14 season.
An undrafted free agent, O’Brien received a training camp invitation from Washington as a rookie and earned a spot on the Capitals season-opening roster, making his NHL debut on Oct. 9, 2014 against Montreal, earning his first NHL point with an assist on Oct. 14, 2014 against San Jose and netting his first NHL goal on Oct. 26, 2014 at Vancouver.
Headline photo: Cara Bahniuk/RMNB
This content was originally published here.