blank'/> THE PUCK REPORT: Today In NHL History - Bobby Orr

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Today In NHL History - Bobby Orr

On March 20th in 1948, Robert Gordon "Bobby" Orr was born in Parry Sound, Ontario. Widely considered the greatest defenceman to ever play the game, Number 4 revolutionized the blueline position with his fluid skating style and unprecedented offensive approach.

Orr entered the NHL at the age of 18 as the league's highest paid player (earning $25,000/year) and soon after became its best. During his abbreviated and injury-riddled career, Orr won the Calder (1967), Norris (1968-1975), Art Ross (1970, 1975), Hart (1970-1972), Conn Smythe (1970, 1972), and Stanley Cup (1970, 1972). He even scored the championship goal in both Cup wins. When it was all over, Orr had amassed 270 goals and 645 assists in 657 games, behind only Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Mike Bossy in points per game.

To this day, Orr remains the only player to win all four major awards (Hart, Conn Smythe, Art Ross, Norris) in the same year (1970) and the only defenseman to lead the league in scoring (1970, 1975). He also still holds single season NHL records for plus/minus rating (+124), points by a defenseman (139), and assists by a defenseman (102), as well as leading the league in plus/minus six times (1969-1972, 1974-1975) and being named the top defenseman eight years in a row (1968-1975).

On June 9, 1976, Orr signed with Chicago on the misrepresentations of his agent Alan Eagleson despite being offered an 18.6% ownership share in the Bruins to remain with Boston. Orr's injuries limited him to 26 games over the next three seasons, ultimately retiring in 1979 after over a dozen knee surgeries. Famously, he never cashed a Blackhawks pay check, stating that he wouldn't accept a salary if didn't play.

The NHL waived the mandatory three year waiting period for induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame, making him the youngest player (age 31) to be enshrined. On January 9, 1979, the Bruins retired his number 4 jersey. Much of the ceremony had to be scrapped due to the unstoppable applauding of the Boston Garden faithful.

In addition to his NHL awards and records, Orr was named Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year, the greatest athlete in Boston history by the Boston Globe (beating out Ted Williams, Bill Russell, Carl Yastrzemski, and Bob Cousy), and the second greatest hockey player of all time by The Hockey News (behind only Wayne Gretzky).

Bobby Orr, a legend ahead of his time.

That's today in NHL history.

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