Bobby Orr

"He's the perfect hockey player."

Those are the words of Boston coach/GM Harry Sinden, who had the best look at Orr on a nightly basis and insists Orr is the best player ever because he blended extraordinary talent and a brand of toughness that no one else has ever possessed.

"(Gordie) Howe could do everything, but not at top speed. (Bobby) Hull went at top speed but couldn't do everything. The physical aspect is absent from (Wayne) Gretzky's game. Orr would do everything, and do it at top speed."

To make matters even more interesting, Orr was the sport's most dominant player, arguably its perfect player, and he did from the blue line. By doing so Orr revolutionized the game of hockey. His slick passing and playmaking and his end to end rushes were unheard of by a defenseman. Only the very very best forwards would try a solo effort. Orr did it seemingly effortlessly, and so convincingly, therefore forever changing the hockey landscape.

Perhaps the great writer Jack Falla sums it up best:

“Orr had broken scoring records by such huge margins and played with such creativity and abandon as to alter a half century of tactical hockey orthodoxy about the proper role of a defenseman.”

Before Bobby Orr defensemen were counted on primarily for defensive purposes. They would rarely join a rush, never mind lead one. They stayed in front of the net and helped clear the puck out of the defensive zone. Their main job offensively was to get the puck out of their end and create a quick transition game. The best players would almost always be forwards.

But the kid from Parry Sound, Ontario played like a forward, while still delivering sound defense. His display of end to end rushes and his mastery on the point of the power play changed the way offense was generated, and how defenses would cover them. He was simply the most skilled player the NHL has ever seen, even more so than Wayne Gretzky or even Mario Lemieux, both of whom benefit from the game revolutionized by Orr.

Orr won the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year in 1967. He would finished second in scoring among defenseman with 13 goals and 41 points, astounding numbers in those days. Harry Howell won the Norris Trophy that year, but was quoted after being named the winner - "I might as well enjoy it (Norris Trophy) now, because I expect it's going to belong to Bobby Orr from now on." He would be proven correct.

By 1969 Orr set an NHL record for defensemen scoring with 64 points including 21 goals. The following season he would nearly double that point total to 120 points based on 33 goals and 87 assists, becoming the first defenseman to score 100 points in a season, and the first (and only) to lead the league in scoring! In three years Orr obliterated scoring records not only for defensemen, but for all players.

The 1970-71 season was Orr's best statistically, as he piled in an amazing 139 points based on 37 goals and 102 assists. No player had ever scored 100 assists in one season before, and only two have since (Gretzky and Lemieux). Remember, this was all before Wayne Gretzky's offensive rewriting of the record books. These numbers were even more mind-boggling than Gretzky's considering Orr was a defenseman, and the era he played in.

1974-75 would rival the 1970-71 season as Orr was on a mission to become the first defenseman to score 50 goals. He came up just short, finishing with 46, but added 89 helpers for 135 points. No defenseman has ever scored 50 goals since, although Paul Coffey bettered Orr's total by 2.

All this time Orr was bothered by knee surgeries. However he managed to play a full schedule for the most part. During his prime he played 75-80 games, with the 1972-73 season being the lone exception. He played in only 63 that year, yet still managed 101 points.

He would end up winning the Norris Trophy as best defenseman for 8 consecutive years. In 1970 he became the first player in history to win down four individual trophies in one season. He won the Norris, Art Ross (Top scorer), Hart (MVP) and Conn Smythe (MVP in playoffs). He ended up with 3 Harts and 2 Smythe Trophies, as well as two Stanley Cup rings.

Speaking of Stanley Cups, Orr may have scored the most famous playoff goal in hockey history. Orr's overtime goal that won the final game of the playoffs and brought the Cup back to Beantown for the first time in 29 years. Just 40 seconds into overtime of game four, Orr took a centering pass from Derek Sanderson right in the slot and shot it past a sprawling St. Louis Blues goaltender, Glenn Hall. As soon as the puck hit the back of the net, Blues defenseman Noel Picard would hook Orr's skate with his stick, sending Orr flying through the air. The picture of Orr celebrating the winning goal in mid-flight will forever be etched in the minds of hockey fans all around the world.

Orr finished his career with 270 goals and 915 points in 657 games, absolutely mind boggling numbers for a defenseman. He remains as the only defenseman to lead the NHL in scoring. He held 12 individual records at the time of his retirement. He was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1979. Perhaps the greatest accolade given to Orr was the by the fans. The Boston Globe once conducted a poll of New Englanders to determine who was the greatest athlete in Boston history. It was not Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Bob Cousy, Bill Russell or Larry Bird. The winner was Number Four, Bobby Orr.

Often overlooked is Orr's physical attributes. He was a ferocious body checker and an astute shot blocker. People would often tell Bobby not to sacrifice his body, because his knees couldn't handle the punishment, and he was good enough to play without that abuse. Bobby would simply reply "It's the only way I know how to play."

Orr's brilliant career was shortened by bad knees. Had he been able to continue for a few more years, maybe there would be no question as to who is the greatest of all time.

In January 1998, The Hockey News named Orr the second greatest player of all time, behind only Wayne Gretzky. He would finish just 13 polling points out of first, and 13 points ahead of third place Gordie Howe. I think that proves the three stars from different eras are on a level all on their own.

Howe dominated the way hockey was always played, up and down the wing, bash and crash and physically intimidate. Gretzky would dominate the all offense era of fast skating and high scoring. Some how the game had changed between the Howe and Gretzky eras. Bobby Orr was largely instrumental in the revolutionization of hockey. One can only imagine how much more he would have altered the game had he been fortunate enough to stay healthy.


Anonymous,  12:27 PM  

Orr was the greatest. Gretsky couldn't skate or check like Orr and he never knew the inside of his own blue line. Orr did it all and without the protection the refs gave Whinebag Wayne.

Tim 1:08 PM  

Orr could accelerate to full speed from a dead stop faster than any player I've ever seen. He was absolutely explosive. Opposing fowards and defensemen were constantly on their heels.

Paul Hoy 7:16 AM  

Enjoyed this piece. Insightful, full of perspective, and well written. Thanks. Elegantly shows that Orr was the greatest : )

Anonymous,  10:47 AM  


Anonymous,  6:33 PM  

There's a lot of guys who were just
as good, or even better than Orr.
Orr was good, obviously; but he
WAS and continues to be over-rated.

Sure, most folks will disagree with
me. But, I'm not obligated to
agree with most fans. Not every-
body agress that Pele was the best
soccer player, either.

The thing that really bugged me was
the refs allowed Orr to fall on
the puck to stop play - - a clear
violation of the rules.

If Orr was so great, how come he
was on the ice for six of the
seven Montreal goals in the 2nd
game in the '71 playoffs? How
come Orr didn't score in most of
those seven games, including the
finale in Boston Garden, where
he surrendered at least two of
the four Hab goals on 4/18/71?
[J. C. Tremblay and "Lemaire to
F. Mahovlich", right in front of

G. Howe was better. Both Hulls
were better. Doug Harvey was
better. Beliveau was better.
Lemieux was better. Even
Eddie Shore was better than Orr,
and so was Ray Bourque!!!


Anonymous,  9:19 AM  

Bobby Orr's numbers are amazing, but as is often the case in sports, stats don't tell the whole story. Bobby was a player who lifted his teammates' performance and gave the Bruins a sense of confidence by his sheer intensity and leadership by example. A true mix of toughness and finesse, he was the best. This next observation is not meant to be a Gretsky-bash, but after each of Orr's goals, he'd often pat a teammate on the head and put his own head down and focus on the next faceoff. Gretsky too often basked in glorious celebrations over even his garbage goals. Orr had a modesty that seems missing in sports today.

Anonymous,  7:17 PM  

Orr was a fantastic skater but would have nothing of fame without the likes of a Dallas Smith. Sorry it just makes me mad that all the acolades always go to the goal scorers. Not enough attention is given to the great DEFENSIVE defensemen in the game. The stay at home and keep the score down.

tdennen 9:44 AM  

For those of you who comment about Bobby Orr, without watching him play for at least 5 of his best years, have zero credance in making any judgement. I'm lucky enough to have watched Howe, Gretzy and Orr play.. and none can compare to Orr by any measure. Gretzy was a wimp, Howe was not that fast as skater. Orr could skate as faster than anyone in the leaque at that time, shooter harder than just about anyone except for Bobby Hull and played fantastic defense and lead the league in scoring too boot. I recall Orr skating full tilt, and blasted a slap shot from the blue line and kepted skating towards the net. When the shot bounced straight up off the goalies shot blocker he positioned himself to catch the puck .. but no.. as Orr skated around the net he tapped the puck, waist high, just over the goalies glove, into the net! I've never seen such a play by any player since. He's number one by far!

Anonymous,  10:42 AM  

Hockey would be so much more enjoyable to watch if we only had another Bobby Orr playing.

You can't compare any other player who has played the game to Orr because he was the greatest of them all,he was the complete hockey player.

The rest can be compared to someone as good as them. The other greats such as Gretsky or Crosby might be as good as Jean Belliveau.

Bobby Orr in a class of his own.

Bob Curley

jacqui 7:35 PM  

Quite simply, he was the best. And watching hockey has never been the same since he stopped playing.

Anonymous,  2:27 PM  

bobby orr needed dallas smith?? have you ever watched a hockey game?? get a clue

Anonymous,  1:59 PM  

I grew up in Philly, listened to Hockey Night in Canada on AM radio, loved the game, and was delighted when we got an expansion team.

So I didn't exactly love Bruins in general.

But Orr was something special for the reasons everyone has already noted--he was like a one-man baseball team, offense and defense in one, switching between them like the ultimate Zen monk martial artist. On ice.

Later in my life, I lived in the midwest, and people were always talking about Gretsky this, Gretsky that. I'd watch him. Yes, he was an amazing scorer. But he didn't have Orr's versatility, speed, explosiveness, "creativity" (good word for it!), and leadership qualities. Orr just seemed so humble, team-oriented, and genuinely shy when he did something magnificent and got notice. Gretsky always seemed like he was his own best fan. All well and good, but there's something about the kind of world-class, balls-out competence...that doesn't feel it has to draw attention to itself.

Orr was also a toughie. He'd take the ice against the Bullies, and I remember the first few times I saw him, I went, "He'll fold." He didn't. He was tough.

I think it was thanks to him that, after my teens, I outgrew seeing rough-housing as admirable. Orr, like Ken Dryden, is one of those players who, you watch 'em for five or ten years, and they change the way you look at the game. I agree with Jacqui; after he retired, hockey wasn't much fun anymore. Now it's kind of like watching video game characters--a bunch of pads and helmets with zillion dollar salaries.


Anonymous,  10:21 PM  

what about the plus minus
ORR had posted with 126
if this does not impress then what will? gretsky earning an assist while on the bench for L.A.?
ok Lemieux scoring his first goal on his first shift, striping Ray Bourque and then top shelf.

Anonymous,  7:11 AM  

I grew up in the 60s and have been playing Hockey since I was 4. I used to go to hockey camps as a kid and would watch old film of the 1950 and 1960 Stanley Cups (I think that was the start of me hating the Canadiens, plus I'm from Boston). I was a student of the game as well as a player even as a kid and I have no reservation in saying that Bobby Orr was and still is the greatest player ever. As this article says, he had the complete game (defense, speed, HITTING, passing and scoring) and changed how hockey was played. The fact that he did this with the utmost class and without even a hint of ego is what set him apart from all the rest. His approach to hockey taught me be respectful not only of the game of hockey but any sport I played. Eddie Shore, who has seen them all said he was THE BEST, no question. I totally concur.

jeffreyshultz 6:40 PM  

He was simply the best and I hope that ever will be. I cannot imagine a player so complete in his game or his humanity. WOW, what a treat we all had that watched him play. Thank you for that Bobby.

Anonymous,  4:35 PM  

ken said

#4 Bobby Orr...SCORE...#4 the game will never be same without him. He was exciting, elegant, a gentelman, an athlete, THE BEST EVER IN ANY SPORT. You just couldn't wait for him to take the puck behind his net and go like the wind down the other end to score. Nobody had the tools like #4 to get you excited like that.

a_true_leftist 6:14 PM  

I have been a Habs fan since the mid-sixties. When Bobby Orr appeared and Boston began its rise I watched every Habs-Bruin game I could. As time went on, I found myself focussing on Orr's ice-time, feeling my anxiety rise whenever he stepped on the ice and feeling profound relief when he went to the bench. He alone provoked this reaction in me, and I can think of no more sincere compliment that one could pay to an opposing player...

Anonymous,  10:16 PM  

There is no need to bash one player while complimenting another player. There have been marvelous talents in the NHL over the decades. Every single one had a flaw in their game. Except one.

Bobby Orr was the most dominant player I have seen in my 45 years watching, playing or coaching hockey.

There were many games where Orr did not score a goal nor an assist---yet completely dominated the entire game.

One stat I wish they kept---'most minutes with the puck on your stick'. Orr would lead that Stat for the next 1000 years.

For those of us that watched his entire career----we are unshakable in our confidence that we witnessed the very best there will ever be in the sport called Hockey.

Richard,  12:13 AM  

You really don't have to comment on how great he was..If you grew up in the Boston area , and played hockey in the late 60's and early 70' was all would stay up watching games from the West coast..Channel 38 WSBK..Don Earle..My brother bought the album..Goal was sweet.I never saw one guy score so many goals coming over the blueline for one timers..I remember watching the final on Sunday know what final..with my dad..the color TV was nice..

The thing about #4 Bobby brings you back to good days..Funny..I know the media was different never heard of any trouble from that superstar....You know..he had that humbleness...but don't forget..that kid could fight..Orr was much more then then the greatest hockey player..he was an era..

Anonymous,  8:39 AM  

He was born Robert Gordon Orr in Parry Sound Ontario. If you ever have the honour of meeting him, you will refer to him as Mr. Orr, or Sir. He is hands down the greatest hockey player of all time. In my opinion, he deserves as much respect and recognition as the great Jim Thorpe. Have you noticed that on this board all of the previous greats have been compared to Bobby Orr. He is by far the yard stick others are measured by in hockey. #4 Bobby Orr!

Anonymous,  1:19 PM  

Orr did all of this as a defenseman - not only was Gretzky a forward, but he had a lot more talent on his line than Orr did.

wildfan 7:36 AM  

I played youth hockey in St Cloud MN in the 70's. Our team jerseys were in the Bruins colors, and I picked #4 for my number. Even though I was a huge fan of the North Stars and the Bruins were the 'hated rival,' I still loved seeing Bobby Orr play. I wold call that a pretty big complement of teh appeal that Orr has, that a kid halfway across the country would pick his number...

Anonymous,  7:32 PM  

'Anonymous said:' There's a lot of guys who were just
as good, or even better than Orr.
Orr was good, obviously; but he
WAS and continues to be over-rated.
Orr over-rated???? I heard a lot of stupid things stated in forums,, but that tops the cake....
Orr had the numbers,, but so much more.
Top 5 greatest players ever...

Anonymous,  4:33 PM  

The speed and finess of the 70's represents hockey's most exciting era. Bobby Orr taught everyone how to play that type of game.

He was, in my humble opinion, a true revolutionary, visionary, and he was hockey's most influential player to the way the game has evolved. When we were all complaining about the trap and how ugly hockey had become, we were comparing it to the way Mr. Orr had changed the game to ....the Wayne and Mario era.

#4 Bobby Orr should be the meaning stated in the dictionary for the word hockey.

.....and all this from a Habs fan.

Ned 11:42 AM  

I do agree that you don't have to knock one player to support another but when Orr entered the NHL there were 6 teams. When Gretzky came in there were 14 and by the time he retired there were over 20 teams. That meant that plenty of the defensemen and goalies Gretzky went up against night after night at the peak of his career wouldn't even have made Junior A when Orr was playing. That's something to think about. Yeah, he still scored a ton of goals but would he have done that if he had to go up against the 5 best goalies and 10 best defensemen, perhaps in the world, every night? He'd still be excellent but........

Joe Pelletier 4:20 PM  

Ned - you mentioned Bobby Orr started in the Original Six, but neglected to mention that in the 1970s the NHL and WHA had over 30 major league hockey teams.

Defenses were very thin in the 1970s, too, not just in Gretzky's era.

Anonymous,  8:57 PM  

none of you remember or regard the feared and ferocious California Golden Seals and their evolutionary contributions to the game of hockey.No Bobby,Wayne,or Mario without them.

Anonymous,  4:40 PM  

I was never as Bruins fan but I went to college in MA, and you could see every Bruins game, even the ones in Vancouver that started at 10:30 PM in MA. The Bruins had a squad back then with Esposito and Cheevers and _especially_ Bobby Orr. Orr was so great, even those of us rooting for someone else respected his game. Someone else talked about shots inside the blue line -- I remember one game in particular, at PHL in 73 (12-9-73, I looked it up). The Flyers were just coming into their own, and with less than 2 minutes to play, it was 3-1 Flyers. I had bets on Philly with everyone on my floor, and these guys are digging into their pockets. With 1:22 to play, Bobby Orr scored from inside the blue line. 51 seconds later, from pretty much the same spot, Orr fires, the puck goes off Phil Esposito's stick*, goal. Past Bernie Parent, who was no slouch, let me assure you. 3-3 tie, no money for me. (*In my memory, Orr got the second goal too, but I looked it up and the goal went to Phil. Far as I'm concerned, though, that was Orr's goal.) Flyers won the Cup later that year when Fred Shero employed the brilliant strategy of forcing Orr to carry the puck; they wore him out and neutralized him. Rope-a-dope in hockey.

One other story: I'm in Hartford, attending a Whalers game vs Winnepeg, Feb. 18, 1981 (I looked it up). Two bad teams, evenly matched, playing a pretty tight game (3-3 tie, Jets goalie stood on his head.). It happens to be Gordie Howe night, and they're giving him all sorts of going away gifts. Well, the last gift is a golf cart. Driven by Bobby Orr. The ovation was like nothing I've ever seen or heard before or since. And I was right up there in it, clapping and cheering my head off for a guy who never played on a team I pulled for. Great's an overused word. It usually goes to the latest guy who's any good. I saw Frank Robinson hit two grand slams, I saw Unitas play, I met Gordie Howe, and they were all great in the right sense of the word. But NO ONE embodied athletic greatness for me more than Bobby Orr. He won that greatest Boston athlete poll for a reason, and he deserved to win it.

I don't disrespect Gretzky in the least, Gordie Howe said he was the greatest, and who am I to disagree with Howe (who, in my eyes, was the ultimate hockey player)? But there was no one like Orr, NO ONE, and no one who saw him play will disagree with that.

Chuck,  1:05 PM  

I can only put it this way, in my time I have witnessed greats in every sport, I have seen Williams and Mantle, Russel and Chamberlain, Bird and Magic, Jordon and all the rest. But when I think back to the days when Bobby Orr skated for the Boston Bruins I still find myself getting teary eyed. Consider the fact that in actuality Bobby's career was nearly over @ 27, just as he was entering his prime. One can only imagine what might have been. For me I thank God I had the chance to see what others will never get a chance to see, A once in a life time experience of watching Booby Orr dominate the NHL

Unknown 8:56 AM  

who ever says Orr was overrated obviously doesn't know much about Hockey. My advice to all of you is to educate yourselves on the game before you make unintelligent statements, your embarrasing yourselves, I can see why you remain annonymous. He did things nobody ever did before in the game. For all the uneducated thats called revolutionize.

Anonymous,  5:04 PM  

Bobby Orr was by far in the top 3 beside Wayne Greztey and Gordie Howe.He was simpley the best defenseman of all time.

Mario 12:43 PM  

I saw Bobby at practice in Montreal go through a drill. Ten pucks lined the blue line and the object of the drill was to hit the goal post. He hit 9 out of 10 posts in less than 10 seconds. Talk about accuracy.

Also, lets not forget his + 124 GAA which is still a record. Bobby was the best skater I ever saw and yes he changed the game.

In 72, he couldn't play in the Canad/Soviet series because of knee injuries. The Soviets revered him as the best player of all time and they all wanted his autograph.

I remember he killed a minute and thirty seconds of a two penalty all by himself. It was like he was playing catch me if you can.

Jean Beliveau called him the greatest of all time. So yes I think it is certain and I've seen hockey the last 45 years that he is one of the greatest, if not the greatest hockey player ever.

Jim,  7:43 PM  

I saw all players from 1958 to present. The most complete players in order are Orr; Hull; Howe! Speed & puck control seperate the two Bobby's from all others. That is why the end to end rushes were common. Powerfull shots & gifted skating with physical presence puts them in a league by themselves. They had zero protection as the NHL had not yet figured out that marquee players were needed to sell their product to the US markets*

geocgeo 2:13 AM  


Anonymous,  1:51 PM  

I did not miss a game during the years Bobby Orr played.

The ice seemed to become electric when he stepped on to it.

I am thankful to have been a witness
to his great abilities.

I love the Boston teams of the late 60's and early 70's.

Doubt we will ever see another like Bobby.

Anonymous,  7:11 PM  

To sum up the orr gretzky debate; I ask you,who do you think we'll see first, another gretzky, or another orr? :)
We always love ya Bobby.

Anonymous,  1:05 PM  

Bobby Orr was simply super human on the ice.Sure he was a profiicent goal scorer,and solid defenseman,a great fighter,but little is mentioned of his penalty killing ability.This is where he truly shone as a dominant force in the sport.He would effortlessly stop a shot,rag the puck with such silky smooth style;almost defying his opponents to try and take the puck back.Whirling and spinning away from the power play team,puck seemingly glued to his stick,as the delighted crowd's roar reached a crescendo,just as the penalty clock tickied down.Just a complete tour de force of skating prowess,the likes of which will likely never be seen again!Bless you,Bobby,you were and still are Boston's premier sports hero!!

Anonymous,  9:55 AM  

Those who use stats to say Orr was not the best miss the point and obviously did not see him play. But let me throw one more stat to the numbers crunchers anyway.

For a "math" problem my home schooled son and I devised a "ratio" by where we could compare an Orr point vs a Gretzky, Lemiuex or Howe point. We not only took into account games played but also took into account total goals scored by all players in a given NHL season. We figured this "ratio" could account for rules, equiptment and other factors that made for "high or "low" scoring eras. As I write this, I forget the ratios but they werent that far apart. I think a Howe point was worth (1.1) and a Gretzky point was wort (.9)

Orr was a close #2 behind Gretzky, Lemiuex was a more distant 3rd and Howe was a very distant 4th.

No adjustment was made for the fact that Orr played,,, DEFENSE!!

Allow a reminiscence

I have played at all levels (except pro) and I still play "old timers". I have seen 5 decades on NHLers at the Chicago stadium.
Hull, Howe, Beliveau, Gretzky, Lemieux and now Crosby and Ovechkin,,, Pilote, Park, Bourque, Coffey and now Duncan Keith and Mike Green.

None come close to Orr.

Orr was a man among boys.
Orr made future hall of famer's look like "bantam" players day in and day out. He did this with a humility that bordered on the apologetic,, as if to "say sorry guys." A true gentleman that all sports sorely lack now.
But dont think he couldnt fight!
As Peter Mahovolich or Keith Magnuson (now in heaven)!

How many times did I hear the "boo's" of another failing Blackhawk power-play slowly turn to a "standing ovation" for this unique visitor from Boston,
You see,,,,,,
Hall of famers Hull, Makita, and Magnuson could'nt get the puck back !!

Not just fans, but great player knew they were witnessing a once in a lifetime (not once in a generation) occurance.

There is no stat for this!

Thanks Bobby

Arthur,  4:07 PM  

Bobby was an exceptionally good player who cared about the hockey world.
He was genuine

Anonymous,  9:48 AM  

Boy, as a die-hard NY Rangers fan growing up in the late 60's-early 70's, did I ever HATE Bobby Orr and the Bruins. He broke my heart in 71-72 when I saw them win the Cup at MSG. However, as the years went by and the hurt receeded, I realized that I was lucky and fortunate enough to have watched THE GREATEST HOCKEY PLAYER that ever lived-probably the greatest athelete that ever played any sport. If you were lucky enough to have watched him. annoymous, you would realize that you have NO IDEA of what your talking about. Bobby Orr simply DOMINATED the game.....

Jerry Chase,  7:49 PM  

Orr continues to be over-rated.

There's a number of players that I would either select ahead of Orr,
or would have rather watched play
---beginning with Gretzky and Howe.

What bothered me most is the NHL
refs allowing Orr to fall on the puck and stop play. This is expressly against the rules; but
they let Orr do it.

The author expressing the conjecture of what Orr might have accomplished with good knees is a tacit admission that Orr was not the best ever. Why would the author include such a wonderment if his argument needed no further support?

If Orr was so great, why did Montreal score six goals in a 7-5 comeback win on April 8, 1971 while Orr was on the ice for all six goals? Also, Orr was on the ice for all four (4) Hab goals in the 7th game on April 18, 1971, in Boston. If Orr only played some defense, the Habs wouldn't have even got to a seventh game.

Orr was over-rated: period.

Jerry Chase,  7:54 PM  

Furthermore, the claim that Orr "re-invented the game from the blue line" is not precisely true.

Previously, one Doug Harvey of Montreal was the pioneer of the "rushing" or "offensive" defenseman.

But, of course, most folks never
saw Doug Harvey on TV like they
did see over-rated Orr.

Anonymous,  11:55 AM  

Thanks for the piece. A mention tho Orr was rated the 4 rth best fighter in 1972 as well...not bad for an allstar

Anonymous,  8:14 PM  

'Anonymous said:' There's a lot of guys who were just
as good, or even better than Orr.
Orr was good, obviously; but he
WAS and continues to be over-rated.

how could Orr be over-rater i never heard anything so stupid before! I never grew up watching Orr cause, well i wasn't born yet but ever sence i was five i loved hockey and my dad used to talk about this great hockey player name Bobby Orr. All of the storys i heard got me more into hockey, i ended up playing when i was six. i have played ever sence and before a game i still watch a Orr video or game and try to compare some things! He's the reason i play. Orr never did anything to anyone he just played hockey because he loved it he never said he was better then anyone and when i read all these hater comment on here got me to thinking, why are you on a Bobby Orr page in the first place if you hate him so much?! And that the more comments i hear about him sucking makes me want to watch him more because i know that he probally doesn't like hearing about all these people not liking him but to me it's just like when you smash someone in hockey and the fans of the other team boo it's the greatest thing because you know what your doing is right and all these haters just are probally fans of another team and the only reason there hating is because they know that Orr led Boston to victory for years and still would if he played.
So next time you go to make a comment about someone, just don't.

Anonymous,  9:57 PM  

I can't comment on the early greats like the Rocket, and Eddie Shore, but I have seen all the greats since 1960: Howe, Hull, Beliveau, up through the current generation of Crosby, and Ovechkin. In my opinion (as a long time player & coach) there are three players who are in a class of their own, Orr, Gretsky, and Mario. No offense to Gordie who is definitely next in line, and who was the greatest through his era.

Among the top three, Orr was the best and most complete player. All three could score and pass, but Orr was also a great defenseman, and tough as nails. During his early years as an 18-20 year old, he made hardened "Original Six" players look foolish. Yet he was as humble as they come.

Orr also had the most "magic". He would consistanly do things that had never been seen or done before. He was the first to "rag" the puck, the first to score by CIRCLING the NET! Gretsky and Mario were truly gifted and had their own scoring magic, but Orr was their inspiration.

Gretsky and Mario dominated the offensive zone, but Orr dominated every inch of the ice.

Not even close....Orr was the greatest of all time.

Unknown 4:58 AM  

great talented player, and he was one of my favorite players

JAN 8:17 PM  

I have always been a Wings fan but when Bobby was on the ice I was his fan and his only. He was and will continue to be the best ever. Bobby Orr a man for all ages.

Anonymous,  10:06 AM  

I saw him play as a kid -he would stop behind his own net and survey the ice. The Boston Garden would rise to their feet and cheer anticipating a rink long rush, the place would go crazy, it was awesome , he would deliver everytime. The Greatest Player Ever !!!!! Saw Gretsky get shadowed by Steve Casper in Boston - really never had a big game against the Bruins. No One Shadowed Bobby Orr, They couldn't catch him.,  6:18 PM  

Sunday, can you get all the old players back with you? Loved that you held Horton's number on a flag, but would like to see the old Bruins with you at Sunday's game. Think you can pull it off? You guys were great. I remember Pie McKenzie, Johnny Bucyk, Kenny Hodge, Phil Esposito, Gerry Cheevers, Derek Sanderson, and you.,  6:22 PM  

Sunday, can you get all the old players back with you? Loved that you held Horton's number on a flag, but would like to see the old Bruins with you at Sunday's game. Think you can pull it off? You guys were great. I remember Pie McKenzie, Johnny Bucyk, Kenny Hodge, Phil Esposito, Gerry Cheevers, Derek Sanderson, and you.

Anonymous,  6:09 AM  

I recall a game where Orr was bringing the puck down the center of the ice - 2 defenders tried blocking his way - Bobbie scooped the puck over their sticks - hopped over and drove the puck into the net - that image has stayed with me forever. I have seen Michael Jordan, Walter Payton, Carl Yaz play besides Bobbie Orr and something these Greats all have/had in common is the "Love of the Game" - you don't see that in the professional athletes today.

BoSoxFanPeds 9:35 PM  

Who would be the all-time line of hockey with Bobby Orr one of your starting defensemen?? Would Gretsky and Lemeiux be your forwards?? Who else?? Guy Lefleur?? Jasques Lamairre?? Phil Esposito?? Stan Makita?? Ray Bourque?? I have been a fan since 1970 and my team would be: Bobby Orr D, Ray Bourque D, Gretsky, Lemeiux, Chelios, and Patrick Roy in the Net...BoSoxFanPeds

Anonymous,  2:18 PM  

In a class by himself. Gretzky may have had a more prolific career statistically, but he did not have Bobby Orr's ability. Gretzky also played in the weak and wide open west, and the refs protected him. Not so for Orr. And let's not forget, Orr played almost his entire career on one good knee. They wouldn't do to animals today what they did to him, and you wonder what he would have done if they had the same medical technology back then that they do today.

Anonymous,  5:42 AM  

Having had the pleasure as a kid of watching Bobby Orr in his Boston heyday in the early '70's, I will remember until my dying day the words of the Garden announcer: 'Boston Score, Number 4, Bobby Orr!'.

Anonymous,  6:33 AM  

Orr is just overrated oka? Gretzky pioneered offense the wya it is today. yes u can argue orr did everything, but he didnt. alot fo defense contributed to the offensive defensemen, okay? and to say that orr would have done much more without th knee injury, INJURIES ARE PART OF THE GAME

Anonymous,  6:34 AM  

Orr is just overrated oka? Gretzky pioneered offense the wya it is today. yes u can argue orr did everything, but he didnt. alot fo defense contributed to the offensive defensemen, okay? and to say that orr would have done much more without th knee injury, INJURIES ARE PART OF THE GAME

Greg G,  9:58 AM  

Bobby Orr was without a doubt the most complete hockey player I ever saw and he reminded me of the same type of player, as was Gordie Howe.. Orr was the epitome of a two way hockey player even though he was on offense so much!.. When I think about seeing him play it was almost laughable, he was so darn good and I am a Blackhawk fan! I say this because Orr could do it all and that includes fight!. One must remember, Orr was like Mickey Mantle in baseball they both had leg problems! Orr'knees were the reason he retired at 30 years old. Let me say this, read the book "The Golden Jet" about Bobby Hull and read what he says about Orr... In short, Bobby Hull said.." Bobby Orr was easily the best player he ever played against "BY A WIDE MARGIN"!.. He also said that, "with due respect to all the other players he played against"!.. That for me is eneough from another one of the greatest whoever played.

Bigguy47,  6:16 AM  

To the poster who said Doug Harvey was better than Orr. You are out of your mind! Yes Harvey was good but how many times did he lead the league in scoring? How many consecutive Norris Trophy's did he win? You think Orr wasn't tough ask Pat Quinn how tough Orr was. Orr would have skated circles around Harvey. Harvey also benefitted from the NHL draft system which allowed Montreal to draft every great player from Quebec so he was surrounded by a team of Hall of Famers. Tell me how many times Harvey killed penalties by himself or how many times you saw Harvey skate around the entire oppostion and score. Milt Schmidt has said many times that if a player comes around that's better than Orr was he hopes the good lord keeps him alive to see that player. My family is in Halifax ,NS and most are Leafs and Hab fans but they all agree that Orr was the best ever.

Anonymous,  4:51 PM  

I have had the pleasure of meeting Mr Orr twice. Both times he was a perfect gentleman, and so very nice. He is the epitome of class both on and off the ice.

BobK,  2:39 PM  

I grew up watching all the great ones in the 60s,70s, 80s and 90s. I still believe Bobby Orr was the GREATEST EVER!!!

The Swede,  1:42 PM  

I agree with most of the people that concider Bobby Orr the best player ever. I lived outside of Boston and saw most of the Bruins game in the season 71-72.

In a game I saw Orr circling three laps around his own goal with an opponent player trying to catch up with him. But orr easily outscated him, making him looking kind of foolish even trying!

Everything Orr did he did with such ease. Noone comes even cloose! As a former professional player earlier my self, for a short time (knee enjury) in my life, I should have the eye for talent!

Anonymous,  2:00 AM  

Nobody but Gordy and Jean touch Orr.

Orr revolutionized the position in the modern era.

Park and Bourque and Coffey were great but Orr did it all.

Oh,and Realist,Orr never sold his soul to win a cup.He actually led his team to multiple cups.

Anonymous,  4:46 PM  

Orr was not the best skater ever. It was clearly Lemieux. He deked out ever single living player and could not be stopped. Orr was definitely a great player though.

Anonymous,  2:12 AM  

They say with age comes wisdom. I find this true cause all you old bastards have seen it before. And collectivley, anyone who has seen him play, no matter what team they root for, love him.
Im only a 20 year old kid, hell ray spent more time trying to get a cup then ive been alive. But ive seen some great hockey players. It shames me ill never "know" orr more then 'the gray hair'ed guy who i must respect like god for he is a hockey god'. Orr was the epitomey of hockey, almost every hockey fan/personell/player has admited it. Bobby Orr won hockey. We can all stop trying and go home now

Rainman30,  10:03 PM  

The huge point totals and plus/minus stats Orr amassed in the relatively short time he played for the Bruins were only a part of the story. Bobby's ability to control the play and dictate the pace of the game were singularly his and all of the other greats paled by comparison in this area. He dominated all over the ice; offensively and defensively and toughness was a definite attribute also. I remember him blocking shots all the time and I have even watched old clips of Orr making saves when the goalie wandered out of the net. The hard, accurate low shot from the point, the superquick burst of acceleration skating away from the opposition, the beautiful passes always on the mark, and even the fighting ability he displayed were a combination no other player had. The humility Orr showed on the ice seems so classy compared to some of the silly antics on display nowadays too. To sum it all up he was the best hockey player ever. End of story.

Anonymous,  7:36 PM  

I attended the Orr-Walton Hockey school in Orillia, Ontario. I skated with and me Bobby Orr. Like the other comments, he is the nicest most humble guy... a real gentleman. He is the greatest Player in NHL history no question. And yes, one tough player that never backed down.

Anonymous,  5:51 AM  

to,the guy who said Harvey was better then Orr,you have no idea what your talking about. Even Beliveau who played with Harvey said "Orr was the best." Scondly, Harvey,nor no other defencemen has ever won the Art Ross trophy as the leagues top scorer. Even Serge Savard said"There's players, stars, superstars, & then there's Bobby Orr". My uncle Wayne Connelly played 15 years in the NHL & WHqas a teamate of Orr's and grew up a Hab's fan in Rouyon,PQ even told me Orr was the greatest bar none,i would suggest you take your homer Hab's glasses off for a second,because your making
a fool of yourself.

Anonymous,  9:39 PM  

I remember a game in 1971 where Bobby was backing up very fast, as the other team started on a rush...then someone intercepted the puck and...Bobby stopped ON A DIME! I mean, it was an impossible move. No one can skate with that much control...but Orr did it. I sat there an marveled, as I did so often watching him. I was in L.A. and Kings fan...but wnen Orr came to town, I always got the treat of my life. It's difficult to even describe how dominant he was, what a joy it was to see him play.
I just feel grateful, having been abot to watch maybe the greatest ATHLETE to ever compete at any sport...and for sure, the most FUN athlete to watch.

Ray B.,  10:38 PM  

To fully appreciate the overall talent Bobby Orr posessed his skills should be broken down. Probably the best skater that ever played his passing of the puck was always on target while his shot was lethal; almost always low and aimed at the corners. If you ask any goalie the hardest shot to stop. Also Orr did not have much of a windup when he let his shot go from the point not allowing the goalie to get set. Defensively he was a great player too. His super skating skills enabled him to get right back into the play if he had to scramble back to his own end. A great shotblocker he displayed no fear in getting in the way of the leagues best shooters. He was tough as nails too fighting many of the NHL's heavyweights and showing very little mercy if he was angered. No one before or since has killed penalties in the style he exhibited; 'ragging the puck' like he owned it and no one else was allowed to have it. But probably his most outstanding skill was rushing the puck up ice simply skating away from the world's best players as if they were amateurs. Unselfish to a fault he would often set up a teammate at the end of these rushes or simply deke out the goalie or fire the puck at the net. Most of his career Orr played with bad knees showing a very high pain threshold in performingddrook all these amazing feats on the ice. Personally I have seen all the greats since the 60's and while there have been some outstanding hockey players that have showed their talents in that time no one has combined all the skills that Bobby Orr had into one package. Many ex-NHL players consider him the best they have ever seen so their opinion should be worth a lot; even more then mere fans of the game. All these attributes made Orr the greatest all-around hockey player who ever lived and an exceptional role model for young athletes everywhere.

Straddling the Border 9:10 PM  

Here's the proof that Orr was the greatest. Do this mind experiment. Put 5 Orrs on the ice against 5 Gretskys, or 5 Howes, in front of two equal goaltenders. Even better, put 6 Orrs on the ice against 6 Gretskys or 6 Howes, with one of each playing goal. The Orrs would win, time and time again.

Anonymous,  7:30 PM  

I played hockey through high school
My father also played ( Boston Olympics )and had season tickets
since the early 50's. I was privlaged to see Booby Orr from the first balcony, first row in the
Boston Garden ( The Barn on Causeway )and consider myself blessed because of it. Orr was the greatest !! I'm bias, but I believe
I'm right. The kids now are bigger , faster, stronger, and the game has changed. I saw that change in 1966 and it's name was Robert Gordon Orr ( number 4 ) !!

Hattie's Grandaughter,  6:38 PM  

"In January 1998, The Hockey News named Orr the second greatest player of all time, behind only Wayne Gretzky. He would finish just 13 polling points out of first, and 13 points ahead of third place Gordie Howe. I think that proves the three stars from different eras are on a level all on their own."

Does this mean that they are comparing these three men's careers up until the time they were all 28 years old - because that's the only fair way to do it. Gordie played until he was an old man Not wxactly fair to compare two careers when one was twice as long as the other is it?

Joe Pelletier 5:49 AM  

I suppose the rebuttal, Hattie, is longevity is a valued indicator of greatness. No one can deny the longevity factor of Howe or Gretzky. Orr, unfortunately, does have that drawback. I think it is a moot point really, but it is a point.

Anonymous,  12:25 AM  

Guys, he didn't play long enough. Maybe he was the best ever at his absolute peak (personally, I'd go with Lemieux, but whatever). But he essentially had six (maybe seven) great years, and that's it. Lemieux had 10 or 11, while Gretzky had at least 15. Nobody seriously argues that the greatest pitcher ever was Sandy Koufax (even though he might have been at his absolute peak) because he was done at age 30, and people need to stop pretending that Orr (pretty much done at age 26) was better than Wayne Gretzky. He wasn't. Gretzky was the best, and I say that as a Penguins fan. Arguing otherwise just makes you look foolish. I look forward to your cases that Michael Jordan and Babe Ruth also weren't the best.

Anonymous,  11:24 AM  

Five Orrs could beat five Gretzkys or five Lemieuxs or five Howes or five whoever you put on the ice. He could do it all...offense and defense.

Arthur,  4:26 PM  

When watching Bobby Orr you knew you were watching history.

I was watching a Chicago vs Boston game (The old Peter Puck days)
Bobby Orr Rushed Tony Esposito from the Red line.
Keith Magnisom Tripped him on his way in.
The Ref went to the penalty box.
This was all on TV!
He Said that's two minutes for Tripping on #3 Chicago as he skated away - Camera's were on the Ref he came back and said and another 2 minutes for Tripping Bobby Orr. Even the Ref's knew he was the fastest skater they had ever seen!

One stat that is also not in any blog. Bobby Orr would do figure eights with the puck on penalities.
The opposing team could not even get the puck back.

No disrespect to Gretzy or anyone else Bobby Orr was the fastest skater bar none. In the Canadian Cup a fellow member stated Bobby Orr is better with one leg than all of us are with two.

Anonymous,  4:06 PM  

Hello, Mr. Orr. When I was 7 years old, I went to my first Bruins game with my Uncle. We had, what they called "obstructed view." I remember a big pole in my way.... Anyway, my Uncle had taken me down to the ice between periods and you saw me and came over and gave me a puck.... Now a 7 year old getting a puck from a hockey player was fun, but as I got older I got a puck from Bobby Orr. I fell in love with hockey at a young age and to this day I remember that day and how humble you were. Thank you Mr. Orr for the great personal memory and the great professional memory. You, my friend, are the greatest that ever played and will ever play.

Anonymous,  11:34 PM  

All due respect to Orr, but I read Jean Beliveau's autobiography, and he named Harvey as the best all-around defenseman of all time, followed by Orr. His reasoning - Harvey was better defensively. He stayed in position and used his wits, vision, and stickhandling to strip opponents of the puck and pass it off. Lidstrom did that too.

Calling anyone "greatest defenseman" can be totally arbitrary - because you can talk about who's the best all-around guy, the most exciting to watch, or simply put, who's the best at doing the defenseman's job: keeping the puck out of your net. Great as Orr has been, there are several guys who are better at keeping pucks out of their own net. Stevens, Lidstrom, Harvey, and Bourque to name a few - granted in that lot, only Bourque approached Orr's offense. Orr did win eight Norrises, but then again, I'd argue Brad Park, his nearest rival, stil wasn't as good as many future blueliners who competed regularly with each other for the Norris.

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