Children soon began to fill the Orr household. On March 20th, 1948 Arva Orr gave birth to her third child. This infant would grow to become Robert Gordon Orr, hockey's greatest player...EVER!
Bobby began skating at the age of four on the Seguin River. He would spend several hours a day practicing his skating on the river and then spend an extra hour at night, taking shooting practice in his garage on Great North Rd.
Bobby took to the local game of Shinny that was played on the frozen river and he quickly became the 'King of Shinny'.
Organized hockey started for Bobby at the age of five. He quickly jumped up through the levels while winning unparalleled praise and recognition before reaching the age of twelve.
Bobby was a hard worker in school, as well as on the ice. In the summers he loved to swim, hunt, and fish with his father and brothers.
In 1960, in a town called Ganonoque on the Saint Lawrence Seaway, the legend of Bobby Orr began to blossom. All six NHL teams had sent scouts to the game and, within minutes of the puck being dropped the scouts for the Boston Bruins had forgotten about the players they had come to watch and had their eyes focused on the skinny little kid from Parry Sound. The Boston Management were seated in stunned silence and the race to sign the "wonder boy" had begun.
At the age of thirteen, Doug and Arva permitted Bobby to sign a Junior A contract card with Boston, to play for the Oshawa Generals. Bobby was still attending elementary school. Bobby Orr is recognized today as the most dominating Junior hockey player in history. At 14 years old, he played hockey against 19 and 20 year old players, and he was a star. Orr had four all-star seasons in Oshawa, but never won the Memorial Cup.
In 1966, Orr played his most memorable Junior game against the touring Russian National Team at Maple Leaf Gardens. Although the Russians won, 4-2, the best player on the ice was Bobby Orr. He continuously intercepted the precision Russian attack and accelerated with dazzling rushes up ice.
Bobby was the first NHL player to hire a lawyer to negotiate a contract. The contract was signed aboard the 42-foot cabin cruiser, which was owned by Boston GM Hap Emms. Orr got $50,000 for two years and a $25,000 signing bonus. By today's standards this does not seem significant, but at the time, that deal changed the NHL pay structure forever.
Orr's first NHL game was against the Detroit Red Wings. He was so excited to be playing against "Mr. Howe", that he arrived at the Garden at 1:00 pm for a 7:30 pm game. Early in the game, young Bobby put some lumber to the back of Gordie's neck. Later in the game, Detroit's #9 caught Orr with his head down and smashed him to the ice.
The talent and grace of this young phenom was apparent from the first moment he stepped on the garden ice. The rest of the league quickly tested his toughness and found out that it was on par with his skills. Early in his rookie season, Orr fought Montreal's tough veteran Ted Harris. Harris hit the ice twice from punches landed by number 4.
His first goal came against the arch-rival Montreal club at the Boston Garden.
Bobby's true greatness was elevated beyond any place that ice skates could have taken him, to a place where honest humanity and compassion carried him. Young Mr. Orr took the time to answer his fan mail and make the person on the street feel they were part of his team. He is so much more than just the greatest hockey player ever; he is a great human being. Orr's trademark humility may have come from his hometown's attitude. He always kept his head down after scoring a goal, not wanting to further shame a fellow professional.
Bobby was assigned #27 when he first signed with Boston, but he quickly switched to the legendary #4. Bobby won the Calder Trophy (top rookie) in 1966-67 and beginning in 1967-68 won the James Norris Trophy, as the NHL's top defenseman, for the next eight years in a row. Bobby became a perennial fixture on the NHL All-Star Team. I will not list the rest of his numerous awards and staggering statistics in this section; to view them go to the Statistics section of this website.
To understand Orr you have to realize that he honestly is a shy guy who was never interested in individual awards. The most meaningful awards to Bobby are the 2 Stanley Cups that his teams won. The main cog in the Big Bad Bruin wheel was clearly the young Bobby Orr. In his third season, he was on the ice an average of 37 minutes a game. Much of that time he was carrying the puck. That is nearly two complete periods that Orr was quarterbacking the team, each and every night. Sports Illustrated named him "Sportsman of the Year" in 1970. Looking solely at the numbers that Bobby put up, one would be led into believing that his defense suffered. That couldn't be further from the truth. Orr's unparalleled speed allowed him to get back into position, on the rare occasion when he would lose the puck in the offensive zone. The Bruins allowed twice as many goals with Orr on the bench. Bobby played the game with reckless abandon. During the 1970s many fans questioned why such a superstar would sacrifice his body, by diving head first to block a shot. What they didn't understand was that if Bobby Orr had pulled up, even a little, he wouldn't have been Bobby Orr. The single most important thing that separates Orr from history's other greats was that he possessed toughness in addition to grace, skill, and speed. Bobby Orr went on to lead the Boston Bruins to their first Stanley Cup in 29 years. The famous picture of him soaring through the air is considered by most people to be the single most defining image in NHL history.
"The Goal" occurred in overtime of the fourth game of the Stanley Cup Finals on May 10, 1970. The savior of the Boston Bruins had finally arrived.
Orr and the Bruins were upset by a star rookie goaltender named Ken Dryden and a hungry Montreal team, in the 1970-71 season. A season that Bobby considers to be the best Bruins team ever.
The 1971-72 hockey season began and #4 was more focused and determined than ever to win back what he believed belonged to the Bruins. After a great six game series with the N.Y. Rangers, in the finals, the cup once again belonged to Boston. Orr won the Conn Smythe Trophy (playoff MVP) for the second time and remarkably, for a defenseman, had scored his second Stanley Cup clinching goal.
Think about this fact for a moment: Bobby Orr twice won the NHL scoring crown (1970 and 1975). That feat may be the most incredible accomplishment in sports history.
A defenseman winning two scoring titles seems much more mind-boggling to me, than someone hitting in 56 straight baseball games or even a basketball player scoring 100 points in a game.
During a six year run from 1969 to 1975, Bobby Orr scored 734 points as a defenseman. An average of 122 points per season. Considering that he had a number of knee surgeries during this time, those numbers are beyond remarkable. Bobby Orr had changed hockey forever!
The other NHL teams realized that the only way to stop Orr was to try and punish his weak knee. Many teams began running people at him and these hits started to take their toll.
In 1976 Bobby got to fulfill a lifelong dream by playing for his country in the Canada Cup series against the Soviets. Bobby won the "Outstanding Player" award as Team Canada defeated the Soviets. Despite not being able to practice and having to wear six and seven ice packs after each game, Orr drew upon his immense courage and played through extreme pain to lead his country to victory.
Boston management offered Bobby part ownership of the team in 1976. Orr's agent did not inform him of the offer, so in 1976 Orr signed with Chicago for 3 million dollars over 5 years. Bobby played only 26 games for the Blackhawks.
Another display of his character was the fact that Orr returned the few paychecks he received from Chicago, saying that he hadn't earned them.
Orr has said that he needed to go to Chicago to prove to himself that he could still play. After two injury filled years he knew that his knees could no longer take it. At a tearful news conference on November 8th, 1978, the greatest hockey player of all-time hung up his skates.
On January 9, 1979 the Boston Bruins held "Bobby Orr Night". When Bobby was finally introduced, the Boston Garden crowd stood and cheered for eleven solid minutes and would not let Mr. Orr speak. Finally the noise subsided and the #4 was lifted to the rafters while Bobby and his family looked on.
In 1979 the Hockey Hall of Fame elected Robert Gordon Orr to be enshrined into it's hallowed halls. Bobby was, and still is, the youngest player ever to be elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame. He was 31 years old!
In a Boston newspaper poll in 1989, the readers of New England were asked what athlete best represents Boston Sports. Ted Williams didn't win. Larry Bird didn't win. The Winner was old #4, Bobby Orr. Even the great players of today, like Ray Bourque, have tremendous respect for #4 and his legacy.
Legendary basketball star Larry Bird was seen during every home game standing isolated and staring up while the national anthem played. When asked what this ritual was all about, Bird said, "I look at Bobby Orr's banner for inspiration."
Arva and Doug Orr's son, Robert, is a person who enjoys life now, as he has throughout his remarkable life. His generosity, humble demeanor, and love of life have over spilled onto his family, friends, and fans.
Bobby spends much of his post-playing days with his loving family: Wife Peggy and sons Darren and Brent. His love of hockey has kept him involved in sports; he now works as a sports agent. In his free time, Bobby plays a lot of golf near his home on Cape Cod. He still spends a lot of time on charity work throughout New England.
He continually declines to take advantage of his name. He is offered thousands of dollars to appear at memorabilia shows, but always respectfully rejects such proposals. Bobby Orr is as great a human being as he was a hockey player, and folks... it just doesn't get any better than that!