The greatest defensemen to ever put on a pair of skates celebrated his 65th birthday Wednesday.
Bobby Orr, the kid from Perry Sound, Ontario, who helped rescue the Boston Bruins from the darkest period in franchise history and delivered a golden age of hockey to The Hub, was born March 20, 1948. The grandson of an Irish soccer player and son of a World War II veteran with the Royal Canadian Navy, Orr would grow up to change the sport he loved on many levels.
Orr was one of the first players to use an agent to negotiate contracts. He became the highest-paid player in the NHL at 18 years old and the first to sign a deal worth $1 million.
The greatest defensemen to ever put on a pair of skates celebrates his 65th birthday on Wednesday. (Photo: Steve Babineau/NHLI)
The resume on the ice is unprecedented. He won the Calder Trophy at 19, was an All-Star and Norris Trophy winner at 20, and a League MVP, scoring champion and playoff MVP shortly after his 22nd birthday in 1970.
Orr went on to win the Norris eight consecutive years, three Hart trophies and two League scoring titles, rewriting the record book for defensemen and revolutionizing the position. The Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 1970 and 1972, and Orr claimed the Cup-winning goal and Conn Smythe Trophy each time.
His knees robbed him of a longer career, and surgery kept him out of the 1972 Summit Series. His lone international triumph came in 1976, after he had missed most of the 1975-76 season and left Boston for Chicago. Orr, far from his old self, still claimed tournament MVP honors and inspired the famous quote from Darryl Sittler.
"Bobby Orr was better on one leg than anybody else was on two," Sittler said.
Orr's relationship with his original agent, Alan Eagleson, deteriorated and the latter became an infamous character in NHL history. After being forced to retire at the age of 30, Orr became the youngest entrant into the Hockey Hall of Fame the following year.
Eventually Orr became a player agent, and is now the president of the Orr Hockey Group. He also takes an active role in the Canadian Hockey League Top Prospects game each season.
Orr has also been working on a memoir, and "Orr: My Story" is scheduled to be released in October.
The numbers are staggering: 270 goals and 915 points in 657 career games. He has won the Norris Trophy the most times in League history. He is the only defenseman to win the Art Ross Trophy. He holds the record for most assists and points in a season for a defenseman, and the best plus-minus rating for anyone.
More than all of that, he inspired a different way to think about the position and the way hockey can be played. He scored possibly the most famous goal in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup in 1970.
To some, especially those fans in the Northeastern United States, he is the greatest hockey player who ever lived. He's certainly among the top three-to-five regardless of where allegiances lie.
Happy birthday to No. 4, Robert Gordon Orr.