video: bobby orr revolutionized the defensive position
With orr in the lineup, how different would the Canadian team have looked in the historic eight-game pinnacle series against the Soviet Union in 1972, when he was unable to play due to injury?
hypothetical questions, for which there will never be answers.
but what we do know about orr is that he not only dominated the defensive position during his all too short career, he completely revolutionized the way the game is played.
“Bobby Orr,” said Toronto Maple Leafs legend Darryl Sittler, a teammate of Orr’s in the 1976 Canada Cup, “was better on one leg than anyone else on two.”
The debate over the greatest player in nhl history is always going to be subjective, but in any discussion about it, you’re bound to hear a handful of names that pretty much always include orr and forwards wayne gretzky and gordie howe.
They were all brilliant talents, trailblazers who statistically and artistically made the game their own with never-before-seen abilities. with otherworldly skills, each mastered not just a game, but their era as well. their preparation and playing styles would be studied for generations to come, models for countless future players.
You’re just scratching the surface of ORR’s impact on hockey between 1966 and 1978 if you just study his NHL trophy case; He won 18 individual awards plus two Stanley Cup championships with the Boston Bruins, in 1970 and ’72.
orr, 1979 hockey hall of famer, won the calder trophy as the nhl’s top rookie in 1966-67; the Norris Trophy for best defenseman in the league eight times (still a record) in eight seasons, from 1967-68 to 1974-75; the art ross trophy as the nhl’s top scorer in 1969-70 and 1974-75, the only defenseman to win it; the hart trophy as the league’s most valuable player in 1969-70, 1970-71 and 1971-72; and conn smythe in both stanley cup winning seasons as the playoffs mvp.
lester b also won. Pearson Award (now Ted Lindsay) in 1974-75 as the most valuable player in the league as voted by the players, and the Lester Patrick Trophy in 1979 for his contribution to hockey in the United States.
Add to those honors his 1976 Canada Cup MVP award, his leading nine points in that tournament.
And then there was “The Goal,” immediately a boston proper noun, which Orr scored 40 seconds after overtime in Game 4 of the 1970 Stanley Cup Final against St. louis blues.
Stumbled by blues defenseman noel picard, orr went on the run in front of st. louis goalkeeper glenn hall an instant after scoring the cup goal, arms outstretched, howling with delight.
video: 1970 cup final, gm4: orr scores the goal in the air
He was frozen in midair in what would become one of hockey’s most famous photographs, his flight immortalized on a statue outside Boston’s TD Garden.
“I was out of the shower and dried off before you hit the ice,” hall orr would joke for years to come, as the hall of fame bouncer autographed that photo more than any other.
beyond “the finish line” and the awards, dig a little deeper and the superlatives will keep flowing from orr’s amazing performance year after year.
In each of Orr Norris’s eight winning seasons, his rating was at least plus-30; He was a whopping plus-124 in 1970-71, an nhl record that will likely be his forever, and he was plus-579 during that eight-year period.
orr did this while playing some tough hockey guy who was no stranger to the penalty box. In 1969-70 he became the first player in NHL history to top 100 points with 100 penalty minutes, and he would do so three times.
He is the only player to win the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe, Hart, Art Ross and Norris trophies in a single season (1969-70). He is the only NHL defenseman to have nine career hat-tricks of his own, and in 1970-71 he set records for assists (102), points by a defenseman (139), and scoring (plus-124) in a single season. he led the league in assists five times.
orr was unlike any other player when he reached adolescence, having started playing organized hockey at age 8 in parry sound, ontario. He was originally a forward and junior hockey coaches Royce Tennant and Bucko McDonald would move him back to the blue line to take advantage of his great speed and stick handling.
Between 1962 and 1963, when Orr was a skinny 14-year-old, he played with the junior class Oshawa Generals, skating against some players who were six years older than him. he’d practiced getting there from morning until late at night, spending endless hours unsupervised on school tracks and in parking lots, shooting pucks he’d emptied and filled with lead into sheets of plywood.
orr shredded the junior league in his next three years with 72-, 93-, and 94-point seasons, respectively. At 18, he had signed with the Bruins. He was about to arrive in the NHL not only as the savior the franchise desperately needed, but as the man who would change the face of the game.
orr’s best move, gordie howe would suggest years later, “was putting on his (expletive) roller skates.”
the bruins had missed the playoffs seven straight seasons when orr brought those blades to boston. They were also missed in their rookie season, but four years after their debut they were Stanley Cup champions for the first time since 1941.
“Bobby Orr was a star when they played the national anthem in his first game,” Harry Sinden, the Bruins’ coach during Orr’s first four NHL seasons, said of the 18-year-old phenom.
orr came in with unholy talent and plenty of guts, earning 102 penalty minutes in 61 games as a rookie.
orr’s ability to control the pace of a game was something not seen since defenseman doug harvey, who won the norris trophy seven times in eight seasons between 1955 and 1962. but where harvey moved deliberately and chose his In places, Orr played with astonishing speed, darting, skewering, spinning, and pirouettes from behind his own net into the opponent’s goal area with great style and improvisation.
“All Bobby did was change the face of hockey for himself,” said forward Phil Esposito, who was traded to Boston by the Chicago Blackhawks when Orr was starting his second season.
Despite how complex orr’s style might have seemed, sinden said the defender “played a very simple, basic game. but he played it at such a higher level than anyone else that sometimes he had to go down the tone or he would have been alone on the ice, with no one even close to his level.”
Esposito said he doubted anyone would see Orr at his top speed “because Bobby was as fast as he needed to be in a particular situation. No matter how fast an opponent was, Bobby could skate faster than him if he needed to.” within the framework of a play. if he got caught on the ice and the other team had an odd man race, that’s when you saw the speed of him really big from him. he rarely had a hand to break up the play. . To have seen top speed from him, you would have needed a play faster than any in hockey history.”
don cherry coached orr in 1974-75 and 1975-76, the defenseman’s last two seasons in boston, and to this day he shakes his head when discussing world no. 4.
“When I first saw him, he was like an old horse trainer who finally saw a secretary,” Cherry said. “He changed the way defense should be played. He broke the mold because before that, defensemen were big, slow guys. They just cleared guys and got the puck up. Bobby changed the whole look of the game and how it’s played.” . /p>
orr missed the 1972 pinnacle series with one of his myriad knee injuries, but was excellent in helping canada win the 1976 canada cup. playing on what some say was the greatest team ever assembled , orr was voted the tournament’s most valuable player.
From the height of that 1976 win, “there’s nothing like winning for your country,” he said, Orr was limping into the twilight of his NHL career. And that would be with the Chicago Black Hawks, with whom he had signed as a free agent on June 24, 1976, against his own heart but on the advice of his agent, Alan Eagleson.
the relationship between the two men was fractured forever by contractual agreements, and orr claimed that eagleson withheld information from him. Orr, who for years had put all of his financial interests in Eagleson’s hands, said he didn’t know he could have had an ownership interest in the Bruins if he had re-signed with Boston.
In the end, Orr played 20 games for the Black Hawks in 1976-77 and six more in 1978-79, after sitting out in 1977-78 following knee surgery.
for that lost season, the scalpels had taken such a high price that orr knew his time was up.
“with today’s endoscopes and the ways they do surgery, the products available, to any athlete a few years ago, would be better for them today,” orr told hockey news in 2013 “When I was playing, you put ice on it, you heated it up, there was a hot gel, and that was it.”
He finally had a total knee replacement in 2004 and said he should have had it much sooner.
In “orr: my story,” his 2013 autobiography, he described the agony of his final months in the nhl.
“I walked on my leg and going up and down stairs was difficult,” orr wrote. “i had multiple surgeries on my left knee at that time. the cartilage doesn’t grow back, it just keeps peeling off, leaving more and more bone surface exposed. both menisci were gone, bone was rubbing against bone and the splinters were chipping away breaking.off.bone spurs and arthritis left the joint swollen and immobile.couldn’t cut,couldn’t accelerate,couldn’t play at the level I expected of myself anymore.had always said i would play until i could skate no more.eventually I knew that day had come.”
orr would score his last goal on October 10. on January 28, 1978 against the Detroit Red Wings, before tearfully announcing his retirement at a news conference 11 days later.
“There was no point in trying to hide the fact that I was devastated,” he said later. “hockey had been my life. I was only 30 years old, an age when many defenders are at their best. Anyone who has dedicated their whole life to something and having it taken away from them knows that it is not as simple as saying goodbye” . .”
The incomparable Howe and Jean Beliveau, and countless others, lavished praise on a superstar who wouldn’t leave the game on his own terms. To this day, Orr is praised not only for his unparalleled accomplishments, but because he accomplished them on knees that were a disaster in his rookie season.
The bruins icon will always be part of the discussion when fans and academics discuss the best of the best to ever play hockey. Orr is just happy with what he was able to accomplish during a career that was too short, too many good years in his heart when he was betrayed by his knees.
“The important things in life don’t change when your luck turns against you, and those things are no different for celebrities than they are for anyone else,” orr wrote. “No one is going to succeed without taking their bundles. No one is going to succeed on their own either. What sometimes seems like an individual achievement is always the result of a team effort. And when you get knocked down, there’s really only one thing to do.” do.”
and there is no hockey player who has gotten up better than not. 4, bobby orr.
for more information, see the top 100 players