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Orr, Sanderson among Bruins honored

by Bob Snow
BOSTON -- The 1970 Stanley Cup-champion Boston Bruins received the Lifetime Achievement Award Monday from the Boston Sports Museum during "The Tradition," an annual testimony to former greats across the Boston and New England sports landscape.

On hand at TD Garden, where the museum is located, were Bobby Orr, Derek Sanderson, Milt Schmidt, Harry Sinden, Don Awrey, Johnny Bucyk, Wayne Carleton, Gary Doak, Ken Hodge, Eddie Johnston, Bill Lesuk, Don Marcotte, John McKenzie, Dallas Smith, Rick Smith, Fred Stanfield, Ed Westfall, former trainer Dan Canney and former team owner Weston Adams, Jr.,

While the play and karma of Orr, Sanderson and Phil Esposito defined the aura -- and era -- of the 1970 Cup winners on Causeway Street, it was the grind-it-out contributions from the supporting cast like both Smiths, Westfall, Marcotte, Carlton -- and "Ace" Bailey and Bill Speer -- that were instrumental in bringing the parade to Beantown.

Bailey and Speer were recognized posthumously. Their sons, Todd, Bill and Scott, respectively, were given the honor of presenting the awards to the team members and management on hand.

Both players passed early -- and tragically. Bailey, at 53, was one of 65 passengers aboard the flight that was crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. He was director of scouting for the Kings and en route to Los Angeles.

Speer died of hypothermia at 47 after a ski mobile accident on a lake in his native Lindsay, Ontario, in 1989.

"I think of Ace about the number of laughs he left with his teammates and me -- a great sense of humor," Schmidt said. "Billy was quite a defenseman who was not that well known, but did his job and was part of our team. Not many guys get their name on the Cup. Billy did."

"Ace was the type everybody needs on the team," said Sinden, who coached the 1970 team and won it all again two years later in '72. "The ice time was limited, but very competitive. In those days teams tried to score first as the criteria for a win. He was a good goal scorer. Today, it's to try to stop the other team from scoring. In that regard, Billy could hit -- a good body checker. You know a good check at the right time will spur your team on. That's what Billy did for us."

There is no secret about the key themes that spurred the B's run to the climactic moment on May 10, 1970 with the all-time hockey highlight-reel of Orr propelled into flight after his OT goal on a feed from Sanderson completed a four-game sweep of St. Louis.

It was all about camaraderie, assuming a role, and knowing how to win.

"The team camaraderie is still obvious," said Todd Bailey, who was not born when his father hoisted Lord Stanley. "No one is left out. Growing up as a little kid and going to the rinks and alumni games and hearing guys tell stories, and then even more when we lost him that gave me a feel for the Cup win."

"Speersey lived with me when he came here," Orr said. "When somebody new came in, we looked after them. Of course, Ace, what can you say? He was a character. What was good about those guys is they never complained about how much they played. And we can't forget Teddy Green who was injured that '69-70 season. He taught us how to win -- on and off the ice."

"The best thing about that team was the stars made a point of making sure everyone was a part of it," Rick Smith said. "We would have optional practices on Monday morning, and some of us would go over to Harvard after dressing in the back of a van at the Garden. Bobby Orr would come out with us and play shinny. I used to think, 'Well, maybe Bobby could use a day off sort of thing.' But he went there with a purpose -- to make us part of the team. That's indicative of the way it was."

"You have to have character and get along in their roles," Carleton said. "That's basically what happened -- nobody bickered over ice time or whatever, whether it was Donny Marcotte or Ace Bailey or myself or Billy Speer. Every team has their stars and core people, but in the end everybody has to do their part."

"Being captain was easy," Bucyk said. "I had Bobby Orr on my side. That's all I needed; just let him go. It was fun. We were so tight, everybody was a captain, and showed up to play and win.

"Tonight is a great tribute to a great bunch of guys who left a lasting impression in Boston," Orr said. "We were a part of the community -- and we won hockey games."

Two on hand spoke deepest from the heart about the 1970 team -- and those lasting impressions.

"I went from $25,000 a year to the highest paid player in the world," said Sanderson, about to finish a movie about a real-life comeback win. "It's about having alcohol get me by the throat, and then drugs entered my life -- a quick downward spiral. The movie is basically about faith and redemption, friendship and family. I got in a field one day and said, 'God, either take me or cure me. I can't live like this anymore.'

"The '70 Cup team were friends that stayed with me -- always there. Tonight, a lot of our lives are born out in fruition. You see your old friends, how we battled and how we played. And how we loved and respected each other. You don't find as much of that today in the game with free agency. All that shows tonight."

"Tonight brings you right back," said Katherine Bailey about her husband's legacy, while standing on the footprint of his games played in Boston. "While I've learned to create my own life, when I come back here it's like nothing ever changed. It makes me miss Ace even more, but the love and kindness that we receive from the team members is just amazing. So was the Cup run. This town was just crazy for the Bruins."

Indeed, and still crazy after all these years.

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