Before the dominance of Wayne Gretzky through the 1980’s and Mario Lemieux in the 90’s, there was hardly a question in most hockey fans minds about who was the best hockey player out there. It was Bobby Orr, and it wasn’t even close.
Bobby Orr came to the Boston Bruins in 1966, and quickly turned the struggling Bruins into a league contender. Orr was the fulcrum on which the Bruins’ franchise fate turned, moving from last place in his rookie campaign to eventual two-time Stanley Cup Champions with Orr at the helm. Even through the modern lens, what Orr was able to accomplish through his time in Boston is remarkable.
Orr was undoubtedly among the most talented offensive defensemen the game has ever seen. He stills holds a record eight consecutive Norris trophies as from 1968 to 1975. He registered six consecutive 100-point campaigns, from 1969 to 1975. In his twelve NHL seasons, he won the Art Ross trophy as the league’s points leader twice, in 1970 and 1975. Orr holds the single season record for +/- having registered an astronomical +124 in 1970-1971. He is also the single season record holder for points and assists by a defenseman, with 139 and 102, respectively, both coming in his 1970-1971 campaign. He is the only player ever to win four major trophies in a season taking the Art Ross, Norris, Hart, and Conn Smythe trophies in the 1969-1970 campaign.
Beyond his statistical prowess, Orr was an electric player. In his rookie season, the Boston Bruins saw attendance rise by 41,000 fans. Orr had unbelievable speed, a skillful stick and incredible hockey instincts which combined to make him a very mesmerizing player to watch. The Stanley Cup Champion Bruins in 1970 and 1972 had Orr has the driving force to their team, while Orr accentuated the pieces around him to bring the team success. His offensive playmaking saw Phil Esposito win the Art Ross trophy in every year Orr did not from 1969 to 1974.
Orr, too, most famously, is known for the 1970 Stanley Cup clinching goal, known affectionately as “The Goal.” Orr scored just 40 seconds into overtime, rushing the puck up the ice, before dishing and receiving a pass from Derek Sanderson, and ultimately being tripped during his shot. Orr’s shot beat the goaltender while Orr was flying through the air. The play is held to be the most famous ice hockey photograph of all-time.
Orr’s career was filled with countless other accolades, most of which were surpassed by Hall of Famers like Gretzky, Lemieux, and Paul Coffey, among others. His career was highlighted by wonderful play yet plagued with injuries. A player of Orr’s caliber and play style was the target of much abuse in the old NHL, and his body, most specifically his knees, would ultimately be the limiting factor on his playing career. His career in Boston ended rather unceremoniously as a serious miscommunication saw Orr depart Boston to sign a 5 year deal with the Chicago Blackhawks. Orr played just 26 games with Chicago before retiring due to extensive knee troubles. Still, despite a career that all agree ended too soon, Bobby Orr had a very significant impact on the NHL. He sits at 5th on the NHL’s all-time points per game leaders, behind the best scorers of all-time, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, and Mike Bossy. Pittsburgh center Sidney Crosby sits 4th, edging out Orr’s pace by about .2 points per game, and is the points per game leader among active players.
Still, those who remember Orr’s play recall it as one of the most captivating styles of hockey there has ever been. Those who were not fortunate enough to see Orr play only know his dominance by the praise with which he spoken about by hockey’s historians. Orr is almost unarguably the greatest defenseman of all-time. His place in hockey history has lost been cemented, the last person to wear the #4 sweater for Boston, it’s since become a piece of his identity, “#4 Bobby Orr.”
There are 1,552 different hockey cards featuring Bobby Orr with a book value of more then $110 thousand. His rookie card, 1966-67 Topps #35 (shown above) has a book value between $2000 & $3500.
Bobby Orr Beckett Checklist: http://www.beckett.com/player/bobby-orr-274517/checklist
I have several Bobby Orr cards in my collection available for sale or trade, if interested then let me know.