Before Bobby Orr, it was unthinkable that a defenseman could lead the NHL in scoring or reach 100 points in a season. But with Orr, as it turned out, anything was possible.
Orr was a player the likes of whom the NHL had never seen before, a combination of speed, size, skill and smarts close to unstoppable. The Boston Bruins scouted him at age 12, signed him to a contract at 14 and brought him to the League at 18. He won the Calder Trophy in 1966-67 and set a single-season points record for defensemen with 64 in 1968-69.
Orr's offensive brilliance and skill at leading the rush amazed everyone, though not all with admiration; traditionalists felt he got caught up ice too often. But even Detroit Red Wings coach Sid Abel admitted that, "I'd let him play just the way he wants to. Whatever he's doing, he must be doing it right."
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Orr did almost everything right during his breakout season in 1969-70. He had two assists on opening night in the Bruins' 2-1 win against the New York Rangers at Boston Garden and never slowed down. He blew through his own single-season record before the All-Star Game and entered the Bruins' home game against the Red Wings on March 15, 1970, leading the NHL with 97 points, though he'd been held off the scoresheet in each of the previous two games.
That drought didn't last long.
Detroit's Alex Delvecchio scored 16 seconds into the game, but Orr tied it 1-1 less than two minutes later. Frank Mahovlich put the Red Wings back in front, but Orr set up John McKenzie's power-play goal midway through the period for his 99th point and a 2-2 tie.
Video: Memories: Orr scores his 100th point of the season
With teammate Rick Smith in the penalty box, Orr needed 27 seconds of the second period to get point No. 100. In typical Orr style, he did it with a rink-length rush that ended when he slid the puck under Detroit goaltender Roy Edwards for a shorthanded goal -- and received a standing ovation from the crowd of 14,835 at Boston Garden. The fans showered the ice with paper and forced the game to be held up until Orr skated out to center ice to acknowledge the cheers.
"I guess it was a little nicer to have it that way," Orr said when asked about getting his 100th point by scoring a goal.
For good measure, Orr had another assist in the third period, giving him a four-point night in a game that ended in a 5-5 tie.
"A lot of guys are scoring those goals," said Orr, who, following the game, had 27 goals and 74 assists on the season. "All I'm doing is shooting the puck somewhere. Seventy-four of those points came when somebody else did the work of scoring the goal."
Orr finished the regular season with 33 goals, 87 assists and 120 points, all NHL records for defensemen and more than enough to give him the scoring title. To cap his season, he scored one of the most famous goals in NHL history, the overtime winner in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final that gave Boston its first championship since 1941. By the time Orr ended his career in 1978, he had six 100-point seasons, two scoring titles, and owned the NHL records for goals (270), assists (645) and points (915) by a defenseman.
Video: Bobby Orr revolutionized defensive position