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One more for Orr

by Chris Lund / Toronto Maple Leafs


It has been 2,109 days since Colton Orr joined the Toronto Maple Leafs organization on July 1, 2009. That's 3,036,960 minutes. In a conversion fit for his biggest supporters, that's 607,392 major penalties worth of time.

Since his arrival, Orr has been as advertised. A player lauded by his coaches for his willingness to put in a professional's day of work. A player appreciated by his teammates for his willingness to sacrifice his body for those who wear the jersey alongside him. A player appreciated by fans for his effort level and affability with those who wanted an autograph or picture.

"He's popular and he's a character person in that room. All the guys were happy to see him, it's a nice face to come into that room," said Leafs interim coach Peter Horachek. "It was really good to have him in that room and on the ice."

Like the Maple Leafs team around him, Orr's time in Toronto has been far from a simple trip. From injuries to reassignments and recalls. Wins and losses that include a Calder Cup run with the Marlies and NHL playoff defeat. He has just about seen it all in Blue and White.

With his recall on April 9, the expectation is this will be Orr's final ride with the Maple Leafs. On April 11, the Leafs take on the Montreal Canadiens — the same club they faced on Oct. 1, 2009 when he made his Leafs debut.

"When I got the call, it's a pretty amazing gesture that they're doing for me," said Orr. "It's nice to get out there and play one last game for the Leafs."

He introduced himself to the Air Canada Centre faithful just 1:50 into the 2009-10 home opener, squaring off with fellow heavyweight Georges Laraque. The Canadiens enforcer scored the takedown in that tilt, but Orr skated away from the fight as he always seems to — with a big grin.

In the time since then, he found ways to endear himself to the Leafs faithful. A Gatti/Ward-esque rivalry with former Senators defenceman Matt Carkner. Tandems with Jay Rosehill and Frazer McLaren resembling the fictional Dean Portman and Fulton Reed "Bash Brothers" of Mighty Ducks 2 fame. Dropping the immense John Scott and many jaws with a well timed right to the ribs.

Orr's time in Toronto has not gone according to plan from a wins and losses standpoint. Looking back on the Toronto chapter of his career, there are plenty of moments you can point to and say, "That was fun to watch." Sports are ultimately about fun and entertainment for the fans — Orr held up his end of that deal for Leafs fans.

There will be no shortage of reflective pieces to follow in the coming days that lament a changing game and the enforcer's place in it. It's clear the game is in a state of flux and the roles available to players are heading in a different direction from what we have known.

"A lot of teams still have a physical presence, but the role of the singular, heavyweight fighter is lessening and going away," said Horachek.

What Orr's final game in Toronto will mean to both the player and organization is not a larger reflection of the sport. It's a fitting send off to a player who — quite literally and metaphorically — fought for every minute of the 231 games he has played to date in a Maple Leafs sweater.

Donning the Maple Leaf is an honour. Saturday will mark an opportunity to wear it one last time for a player who did it the hard way from start to finish.

"I'm very thankful for everything this organization has done for me. It has been a big part of my life and it's going to be a little emotional,” said Orr.

“I'm looking forward to it."

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