Bobby Orr's playing weight was listed at 198 pounds. As he sailed through the air on May 10, 1970, having scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal 40 seconds into Game 4 overtime for his Boston Bruins against the St. Louis Blues, he appeared to be weightless.
But about a decade ago, Orr put on a few pounds. About 800, in fact.
Bronze poured over a skeleton of stainless steel, tilted dramatically off his right toe, Orr sails still today, his roughly 1,000-pound statue outside TD Garden sure to be a prime photo opportunity for fans attending the Stanley Cup Final between the Bruins and Blues.
Game 1 is Monday in Boston (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).
Renowned sculptor Harry Weber, 76, who created this piece, is a native of St. Louis. The fact that he's the creator of a statue immortalizing Orr defeating the artist's hometown team isn't lost on him today, as it wasn't when it was unveiled in May 2010 on the 40th anniversary of the defenseman's historic goal.
"I was asked back then whether it wasn't kind of unusual to have a St. Louis sculptor do a Boston Bruin, particularly since this celebrates Boston beating the Blues," Weber said in the days leading to the 2019 Final. "Well, Bobby is really kind of a bookend, because I've done one of Blues [Hall of Famer] Bernie Federko in front of their arena. So I've got statues in both cities."
As much as Orr did as a player, Weber paid scrupulous attention to detail when creating this statue, commissioned by the Bruins in December 2009. The sculptor had five months to produce it from a first sketch to its installation, much less than the year it can take him for a major piece.
"But it was such an opportunity that my team and I worked 16-hour days to get it done," Weber said. "We were putting the patina on it the day before we packed it in the truck to move it to Boston. It was a lot of fun, though. This was a challenging one."
Sculptor Harry Weber works on his Bobby Orr statue in early 2010, and Weber's Bernie Federko statue in St. Louis.
The Bruins knocked on Weber's door after having seen his 2008 statue of Doug Flutie at Boston College, the quarterback unloading his legendary 1984 Hail Mary pass. In fact, the sculptor has a Boston hat trick: His statue of North End boxer Tony DeMarco was unveiled in 2012.
Weber's Orr statue wouldn't have the benefit of being a strong vertical structure that would cooperate with gravity. He was to commemorate a young superstar's jubilant flight after his goal had given the Bruins their first Stanley Cup championship in 29 years.
"I've had many commissions to honor sports and historical figures and this one is unique," Weber told NHL.com upon the statue's 2010 unveiling. "It was meant to represent a hero whose stature in his sport is unmatched. … This is the biggest honor I think I've ever had. Not only for the guy and the moment, but also the wonderful human being that Bobby Orr is."
Weber has done much work in sports, famously celebrating the greatest St. Louis Cardinals legends, among others.
Sculptor Harry Weber examines hockey sticks behind his Bobby Orr statue with one of music legend Chuck Berry, minus his guitar, at right.
"I'm a big sports fan because half of my work is athletes," Weber said. "I'd say that I'm more of a fan of the athletes individually than I am of the teams. I get to do sports figures all over the country and it just amazes me what they can do with the human body. Particularly somebody like Bobby Orr. He was out of this world, an amazing step above the regular professional."
It was one thing for photographer Ray Lussier's shutter to freeze Orr flying over Boston Garden ice in the split second after his Cup-winning goal, quite another for Weber to sculpt the moment in a half-ton of material, his player built 110 percent life-size.
Orr saw Weber's preliminary model and based on phone calls, one adjustment was made. Special attention was paid to the defenseman's skates and the way he taped his stick; as Orr played, there is no lace at the neck of his jersey.
"Structurally, the challenge was to figure a way to do an internal skeleton of stainless steel that would support a statue that we knew was going to weigh close to 1,000 pounds," Weber said. "I am very fortunate to have a team of guys that I've been working with the last 30 years who are just incredibly good at engineering."
Including a stainless steel stick, Weber created the statue in St. Louis, had it cast in Lawrence, Kansas, then did the final touches at home before driving it to Boston for its installation.
On visits to the city, Weber might detour to see his flying Orr, and his football-tossing Flutie and boxer-posed DeMarco. He's currently on vacation in Europe, far from his studio and the projects that seem endless.
But he says he takes great pride knowing that countless fans will pose beside his Orr statue in the days to come, as they have for years, to put themselves in a timeless moment of Bruins history.
"It was a pretty remarkably quick piece of work, but I think it turned out beautifully," Weber said, perhaps speaking of Orr's goal as well as his statue celebrating it. "I'm very proud of it."
See more of Harry Weber's work: harryweber.com
Photos courtesy Boston Bruins/Brian Babineau; Harry Weber.