Every so often, a player comes along that completely transforms a sport. In hockey that player was none other than number four, Bobby Orr.
Orr revolutionized the game. He was a defenceman who played with skill in every part of the rink. He destroyed all of the conventional wisdom about playing defence.
Bobby grew up in the small town of Parry Sound on Georgian Bay in Ontario. Even when he was a young lad people would come from all over to watch him play.
He was only 14 when the Boston Bruins made their play and sent him to the Oshawa Generals in the metro Junior A League.
Three years later the phenomenon Boston fans had been reading about was ready to enter the professional game and Bobby lived up to every bit of the promise. In his first NHL season, Orr won the Calder Trophy as the best rookie and also made the NHL's Second All-Star Team. And that was his first year in the league!
He won two scoring titles with the Boston Bruins, the only defender to accomplish that feat, and had career season highs of 46 goals and 102 assists. That's amazing, but what was really impressive was his ability to control the game.
When he was on the ice it seemed like everyone else was wearing boots! There was nothing they could do to stop him.
For eight consecutive seasons Orr won the Norris Trophy as the best defenseman and three times earned the Hart Trophy, as the league's most valuable player.
He's also known for one famous moment. During the Bruins 1970 march through the playoffs, Orr scored one of the most famous goals in hockey history to give Boston its first Stanley Cup since 1941.
The goal came off a give-and-go pass from teammate Derek Sanderson at the 40-second mark of the first overtime period in Game Four, helping to complete a sweep of the St. Louis Blues.
The image of a horizontal Orr flying through the air, his arms raised in victory while watching the puck pass by goaltender Glenn Hall, is arguably the most famous and recognized hockey image of all time.
During the 1971-72 season Orr signed a contract that guaranteed him US $200,00 per season over five years, becoming the first hockey player ever to join the millionaire club! Just think about what he would get paid now!
Orr spent most of his career with the Bruins, but was hampered by a bum knee. He played only 10 games in 1975-76, and then signed with the Chicago Black Hawks, but the knee was done.
At the age of 30, Bobby Orr retired from the game.
During his two seasons with Chicago Orr never collected a paycheck from the Black Hawks, because he felt he was paid to play hockey and not to be injured. Talk about a player with integrity!
In 1979, the NHL waved the mandatory three-year waiting period for induction into the Hall of Fame, and at the age of 31 Orr was enshrined, the youngest ever.
What a career!