Bobby Orr is the undisputed “best face’” of the National Hockey League.
Many will argue that he is also the best player to ever lace up a pair of skates in the history of the game.
Despite debate to the contrary, mostly because of his limited time in the NHL due to injury, the game is forever changed because of Bobby Orr alone.
Puck moving defensemen have become essential to any team’s offense and every successful team has more than one in the lineup.
Erik Karrlson, Dion Phaneuf, PK Subban, Zdeno Chara, Duncan Keith, Dustin Byfuglien, Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, and Cam Fowler all were influenced by Bobby Orr.
Orr’s new book ‘Orr My Story’ provides an entertaining look at his early years and retells many of the stories fans have already read about his move at a young age from his hometown of Parry Sound, Ontario and his experiences with the Oshawa Generals and introduction to the NHL.
His views on youth hockey are spot on calling attention to issues that are taking the fun
out of the game and he criticizes the escalating expenses associated with youth hockey
travel and other expenses.
He is correct that the escalating costs to compete are ruining many skilled youth player opportunities.
The book also talks about the many neighbors and coaches who helped get him to out of town games and back when his father (Doug) was at work or unable to drive him. The sense of community was evident throughout the book, and Orr's personal values, which he got from his own parents, showed as he grew into manhood.
For youth hockey parents Orr’s own words and thoughts are what make the book worthwhile.
Unlike other superstars of today, who are media savvy at a young age, Orr is what most of us would like our son’s to grow up to be.
Honest and forthright.
He is passionate about the game, loves his family, a loyal friend, dedicated husband and father in addition to being a uniquely talented player.
In his book Orr writes about growing up in his hometown of Parry Sound and learning to compete by playing with and against older kids and learning to be tougher and quicker to compete.
Orr attributes playing “shinny” with all the neighborhood kids no matter what the age, with helping to accelerate his development. He also writes about his youth hockey coaches allowing him to play his game and make mistakes, something he says may not be possible today.
Sadly opportunities to gain those same experiences are lost to today’s youth players who are precluded from playing a risk taking style or playing with older kids like Orr and other NHL all-star players did as children.
In door rink rules often prohibit the mixing of age groups due to insurance restrictions and the need to win or risk losing players to other teams is a reality even in youth circles.
In his book Orr also talks about the importance of creativity.
While most of today’s fans idolize Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, Patrick Kane and Claude Giroux, days gone by players such as Orr, Gil Perreault, Guy Lafleur, Darryl Sittler, Rod Gilbert and Marcel Dionne regularly lifted fans out of their seat as well as ticket holders in other cities who bought tickets to see them perform.
With exceptions like Pavel Datsyuk, Patrick Kane and Crosby, most players today have the speed, skating ability and shot, but not the creativity.
Orr’s book doesn’t cover much new ground and doesn't address his feelings about players he competed against or give opinions on his thoughts about today's NHL players in detail, but it allows us to reach back to a time when things were simpler and easier to understand and enjoy the reminiscence.