Bobby Orr - The Early Days
The Orr family
Bobby Orr’s parents were Doug Sr. and Arva Orr.
Doug Sr. was a factory worker at Canadian Industries Ltd. And had played Intermediate Hockey for the Parry Sound Shamrocks. Arva was a coffee shop waitress.
Their children, in order by age, were Patricia (1945), Ronnie (1947), Penny, Robert (1948) and Doug Jr.
All in the family
His grandmother Elsie Orr worked as a nurse at St. Joseph’s Hospital where Bobby was born.
The Orr family lived in a duplex on River Road before moving to a bigger home on Great North Road, at the base of Tower Hill.
A young skater
Bobby began skating at the age of four. It all began when a friend of the family, Gene Fernier who worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway, bought him a pair of skates.
They were several sizes too big so the toes were stuffed with paper. It took two years for him to grow out of them.
From that moment on, Bobby Orr spent all his time skating (usually on the Seguin River) wearing his skates barefoot.
In grade school Bobby stayed behind after classes and helped the janitor in his cleaning rounds for a few cents a shift.
Later he worked during the summer as a bellhop at the fancy hotel on Belvedere Hill.
Bobby Orr’s coach when he was 11 and 12 years old
At 5'10" and a solid 205 pounds, Wilfred McDonald was known in hockey circles simply as Bucko. Although an NHL all-star defenseman in his own right, many best remember Bucko McDonald as the man responsible for turning Bobby Orr into a defenseman. McDonald coached Orr in Peewee and Bantam hockey.
Bobby Orr’s heroes
When he was young, Bobby's hero was Terry Harper who was defenseman for the Montreal Canadiens.
Bobby was closest to his brother Ronnie who was a year older than him.
Bobby Orr’s hobby
Angling, fishing, was Bobby’s second passion as a boy, as an adult, and remains so now.
Bobby Orr - Oshawa Generals Era
Bobby Orr’s rights secured by the Boston Bruins
At the age of fourteen the Boston Bruins signed Orr into their organization for $2,800. They arranged for him to play in Canada's Junior A hockey league with the Oshawa Generals, which was populated mostly by nineteen- and twenty-year-olds with strong hopes of making it to the NHL
Star and Strikes
In his second season with the Oshawa Generals, Orr was unanimously voted on the First All Star Team. Orr did not, however, win the coveted Red Tilson Trophy as anticipated. Andre Lacroix of Peterborough won it since his team was formed around him thus making him outstanding. Andre Lacroix also went on to win it the following year and Oshawa was even more disappointed, but still felt they had the greatest defenceman.
Bobby was a little anxious entering his first NHL camp in London, Ontario. His mega-contract and the hype that preceded his arrival had him worrying about the reaction of the veteran Boston players. During one of the first practice sessions in London, Boston's veteran defensive leader, Ted Green, skated over to the young Orr and said, "Kid, I don't know what you're getting, but it isn't enough."
Young Mr. Orr experienced all the usual rookie initiations, including "The Shave"; a head to toe shaving by the team while being held down.
Orr did not complain about his teammates rough horse play, and because of this attitude his teammates accepted him that much quicker.
Bobby Orr's first number with the Bruins
27 was the number he wore all his junior career. He only wore it one season with the Bruins.
The rest of his career he wore the famous number four.
Bobby Orr’s Calder trophy runner-up in 1966-67
In 1967 Bobby Orr won the Calder trophy for Rookie of the Year. The runner up for it was Ed Van Impe, Chicago Black Hawks.
Sanderson and Selby were Calder winners respectively the year after and the year before Orr won the Calder.
Bobby Orr’s rookie season scoring
During Bobby Orr’s rookie season, he came second in scoring for NHL defensemen.
Doug Mohns, who played for Chicago, scored 60 points that year. Orr scored 41.
Record breaking defenseman for a season
The defenseman that had the record for most goals in a season prior to Bobby Orr breaking the record in 1968/69 was William "Flash" Hollett.
First player to hire a lawyer
Bobby was the first NHL player to hire a lawyer to negotiate a contract.
What Orr got does not seem significant by today's standards, but at the time, that deal changed the NHL pay structure forever.
In 1969 his earnings after taxes were estimated by one source at $60,000. The estimate did not include the money that he makes from his business ventures, which include a car wash, a hockey school, and an Ontario land-development company.
Bobby Orr’s brother Ron ran a clothing and sporting goods store on the main drag in Parry Sound with Bobby’s name on the sign. Bobby Orr’s brother-in-law Ron Blanchard operated Bobby’s autograph and memorabilia business.
Fulfillment to the Fans
During the Bruins years, Frosty Forristall was the players’ pal and confidant and co-conspirator. He was especially happy to be Orr’s right-hand man, to the point that he signed autographs for him when the volume of mail at the house became overwhelming. “I’ve got it down pat. You can’t tell our signatures apart”. Frosty would do anything for Bobby, and Bobby thought that it was just fine.
Third Season ice time
Coach Harry Sinden knew that he had something very special, and Harry used his superstar's incredible stamina to the Bruins advantage. 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.
Best of friends
Eddie Johnston was Bobby Orr’s closest pal on the Bruins teams through the years. In fact, Orr was the Best man at Eddie's wedding and the godfather to one of Eddie's kids.
The assist on the Stanley Cup famous goal by Bobby Orr
The Bruins, a team that hadn't won the Cup in 29 years, were attempting to sweep the St. Louis Blues in the finals in 1970. Game four went into overtime.
Orr had taken Derek Sanderson's pass from the corner and flashed in front of the net to bury it behind Blues goalie.
The Magical Number 4
The famous diving goal picture shows Bobby Orr, number 4, scoring the fourth goal, during the fourth period (overtime), of the fourth game of the 1972 Stanley Cup playoffs. This goal won the series. He was tripped by player number 4.
Award Bobby Orr was the first player ever to win three years in a row
The Hart trophy. Not even Gordie won the MVP award more than two years in a row before Orr did it in 70, 71, and 72.
Premature announcement of Bobby Orr's retirement
Howard Cosell, the legendary sportscaster, announced in October 1978 that Orr had retired, though it later turned out he had mistaken Orr for Bobby Hull, who was also contemplating leaving the game. A few days later, Orr called Cosell and told him he was indeed retiring and asked him to attend the press conference. Cosell refused, jokingly saying that he didn't "cover old news."
A hero’s hero
Before games in Boston Garden, while the national anthem was played, Celtics great Larry Bird would look up at Orr's retired jersey for inspiration.
Bobby Orr’s hospital trips
Bobby Orr had a total of fourteen knee operations during his life.
“First Goal” film
In 1982, he made a short film called "First Goal" (sponsored by Nabisco Brands for whom he was doing public relations) advising young athletes, and their parents, that having fun is more important than winning.
The closing of the Boston Garden
During the closing ceremonies of the cavernous old Boston Garden in 1995, Orr took one last skate on the Garden's ice. The outpouring of emotions left him speechless and on the brink of tears.
Bobby Orr’s family today
Orr and his wife Peggy live in the posh Boston suburb of Weston.
He owns additional homes on a South Florida golf course and in Cape Cod.
They have two sons, Darren and Brent.
His oldest son Darren and Darren's wife Chelsea, spend a lot of time with him.
Bobby Orr today
Today, Bobby devotes an enormous amount of his time to developing the next generation of hockey greats, operating a player agency named the Orr Hockey Group.
For vacations and rests, Orr retreats to the small Massachusetts town of Little Nahant, where he spends his time fishing.
Bobby Orr School
A school dedicated to the Bruins hero, the Bobby Orr Public Scholl (Elementary), is located at 7 Waterloo Street in Oshawa, Ontario.
Appearances by Bobby Orr
In 2008, on behalf of the NHL and NHLPA, Bobby Orr made 217 appearances in Canada and another 16 in the US. Both were his lowest numbers in years.