If you ask “who is the best hockey player ever” in Boston, you may get a different answer from most other places in the world.
The Boston Bruins have a rich and storied history that is made up of many legendary figures, but the most extraordinary person to put on a Bs sweater is number 4, Robert (Bobby) Gordon Orr. Today the mythical man from Perry Sound, Ontario turned 70. To celebrate this humble hero, we want to highlight a few of his many accomplishments.
Although Orr retired nearly forty years ago, there hasn’t been a defenseman, or arguably any hockey player, that has equaled his prowess on the ice. The game has changed in favor of fleet footed puck moving defenseman over the past few years. However, this revolution kicked off over 50 years ago when a boy named Bobby Orr broke onto the scene in Boston. Though a highly coveted prospect, few could have guessed the hockey heroics he would bless upon the Bruins.
He began his illustrious NHL career in 1966 and won the Calder Trophy for the best rookie following the 1966-67 season. Orr then went on to win eight consecutive Norris Trophies awarded to the best defenseman and was an unfathomable plus 579 during this reign. He also acquired three Hart Trophies for league MVP. BUT more incredible is that he still holds the record for most points and assists in a season by a defenseman and he is the only blue liner to win the Art Ross Trophy for the top scorer in the NHL, which he did TWICE. He also lead the Bruins to two Stanley Cup Championships in 1970 and 1972. Bobby Orr is the only player to win the Norris Trophy, Art Ross Trophy, Stanley Cup, and Conn Smythe in the same season. He scored over 100 points in six seasons. If Orr didn’t burn you with his skill, he’d beat you in a physical battle. He wasn’t afraid to get dirty evident by his four seasons with over 100 penalty minutes. He was the heart and soul of hockey in Boston and revived the Bruins who missed the playoffs in the previous seven seasons before he arrived.
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One thing that seems to get overlooked when Bobby Orr enters the “best hockey player ever” discussion is the fact that he only played twelve seasons in the NHL and was forced to retire at the age of 30 hampered by severe knee injuries. It should also be noted that he only played 36 games over the course of his last three seasons. Helmets were nonexistent in Orr’s era and players wore little more than cardboard for pads. Surgery and rehabilitation were seemingly in the dark ages, but I won’t dwell on what could’ve been.
Orr’s humbleness is well-known, but he gave a glimpse of his superhero abilities when he took flight after scoring the game winning goal that clinched the 1970 Stanley Cup for the Boston Bruins.
As you may know, this is one of the most iconic moments in hockey history and there is no better player or person to be a beacon for the sport.
The reason Boston sports fans emphatically proclaim Bobby Orr the best hockey player ever extends beyond his unbelievable statistics. There are countless stories of his kindness and generosity to complement his amazing ability and accomplishments. To be the best in the eyes of Boston, you must have more than unparalleled skill, you need a huge heart. Bobby Orr has both.
Although his career was cut short, he has stayed close to hockey and provides a positive influence for current and future generations of players. He launched the Orr Hockey Group in 2002 and they currently represent an impressive portfolio of players. He also coaches Team Orr in the annual CHL Top Prospects Game against his former Bruins’ coach, Don Cherry, who heads Team Cherry. Orr isn’t a stranger to the Bruins either. He is always ready to rock the Bs sweater when the occasion calls. Who could forget this epic salute to another Bruins legend.
Happy Birthday, Bobby Orr. Still the best.