Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Robert Gordon Orr
I'm not afraid to say that this tribute video gives me a mild case of the eye-sweats.
Just about anyone who was fortunate enough to have seen Bobby Orr play hockey will argue to the death that he was the greatest player to ever play the game. And the chances are, if you were to ask the consensus greatest player of all-time, Wayne Gretzky would probably tell you the same.
His numbers are absoloutely staggering: an unprecedented 8 Norris Trophies (I love the line delivered by Harry Howell when he won the Norris in 1967, quipping: "I might as well enjoy it now because I expect it's going to belong to Bobby Orr from now on"); winning the Hart, Norris, Art Ross, and Conn Smythe in the same year (first and only time it's ever happened); an incomprehensible +124 in the 1970-71 season (plus 124?); and perhamps most mind-boggling of all, winning the scoring title in 1970, as a defenseman... I mean, these are things that simply aren't supposed to happen.
Yet the kid from Parry Sound made them happen. He scored arguably the most famous goal in the history of professional hockey (second in my books only to Nikolai Borschevsky's '93 Game 7 overtime winner in Detroit), and his performance in the '76 Canada Cup on one leg is the stuff of which legends are made.
I remember a few years back on Coach's Corner when Don Cherry showed a highlight reel of some of Orr's most memorable plays. And the thing that struck me was how ridiculous Bobby made everyone else on the ice look. We're talking about the hundred or so best hockey players on the planet at the time, and they might as well have been me and the rest of the lads in the OTHL for all the chance they had of catching him. And the goalies were rendered unequivocally helpless. It was almost comical. They never had a prayer. And again: these were the best goalies in the world.
Gretzky was great. Lemieux was at times breathtaking. But neither of them could make the opposition look like a bunch of kids out on the pond they way #4 did. He was a man amongst boys.
Bonus Coverage: Bobby Orr on Don Cherry's Grapevine, taken from 1987. They really need to bring this show back. Love the concept of Grapes sitting up at the bar with Gerry Cheevers playing the role of Cherry's McMahon.
Click HERE for Part 1
Click HERE for Part 2