Category Archives: Bobby Orr

The Carolina Hurricanes Have A Secret Weapon

It should be really interesting to see how the Canadiens rebound from their less-than-stellar performance against Anaheim when the Carolina Hurricanes blow into town.

 

The Hurricanes are no slouches so far this season, but they’re not setting the world on fire either. Led by Ray Whitney, Eric Staal, and Rob Brind’Amour, this team has so far garnered a 4-2-1 record for nine points. Montreal stands at 5-1-1 for 11 points, so they haven’t exactly left the Canes in their dust.

 

However, the Canes have a special weapon, like so many great teams in the past have had. Boston had Orr, Edmonton, Gretzky. Detroit, Yzerman, Chicago, Bobby Hull etc. etc.

 

Carolina has Sergei Samsonov.

 

You can’t really look at the numbers. Okay, so he has no points and is minus 3 after seven games. But I’ll just bet, by the time the season has wound down, this Russian forward will have accumulated probably four goals and two assists!   

 

You know, there was a time when Samsonov was a real player – when he was a fresh-faced newcomer in Boston. He had been a primo Junior star in Russia, and in his first year in Boston, he won rookie of the year. But it all went away, never to be seen again, like dinosaurs, or Milli Vanilli.

 

Samsonov was soon dealt to Edmonton where they paid this underachiever 7.05 million over two years, and of course, he underachieved. From Edmonton it became Chicago, then the minors, and now Carolina, where they’re giving the guy 7.6 million over three years.

 

Every good young player in the minors, and those in the NHL making much less than Samsonov, must wonder what kind of Houdini tricks this guy knows.

 

Samsonov was the ultimate failure in Montreal too. In his year there, 2006-07, he notched nine goals and 17 assists in 63 games. He had become the new Vladimir Krutov, which certainly would give Canucks fans something to shudder about.  However, there’s no word on Samsonov’s hot dog eating abilities, which Krutov was a force to be reckoned with during his short stay in Vancouver in 1989. He was labelled Vladimir Crouton.

 

Montreal really needs this game on Tuesday. Get back to their winning ways. Get back on track. Don’t let Samsonov score.

 

And I’d like to see Alex Kovalev explode. It’s time. He needs to have a big season, like last year.

Geez, Oshawa. Do You Think It’s Time Yet To Do This For Orr?

The Oshawa Generals have finally decided to retire Bobby Orr’s sweater in a ceremony to be held on November 27.

 

That makes the Oshawa Generals only about 40 years too late.

 

When none-Oshawa residents around the world think of Oshawa, they think of maybe two things -General Motors and Bobby Orr. (I don’t know what else they would think of). He WAS Oshawa, even though he was a skinny little kid from Parry Sound living away from home.

 

When he was 16 years old, everyone in hockey knew he was going to be the best. And he was.

 

But only now, 40 years later, will his sweater be retired.

 

Heck, three long-time Powell River Regals, the local senior team, have their sweaters hanging from the Powell River Rec Centre. They were good, but they weren’t Bobby Orr. It only took Powell River a few years to get these done.

 

(Come to think of it, after those fine years as a smallish yet shifty right winger for Byers Bulldozers bantam and midget teams in Orillia, maybe my sweater…..?)

 

The Generals raised Eric Lindros’  last March. Mr. Lindros, although a forward, was no Bobby Orr. Although his mother and father may have thought so. And maybe him. 

 

I noticed on CBC online sports news, a long-time Generals fan told people to quit critizing the Generals for only doing this now because they’ve been trying for ten years, but Orr was never available.

 

But lady, what about the other 30 years?

 

And I’m repeating what I’ve said many times before. Bobby Orr would’ve looked great in a Montreal Canadiens sweater.

 

But I guess Sam Pollock was too busy telling me I couldn’t be a stickboy to get around to getting in a car and driving to Gananoque to scout young Orr before Boston got to him.

Unusual Little Fascinating Facts in the 1972 Summit Series

Right now, 36 years ago in 1972, Team Canada was not having a nice time with the Russian National Team. They were clobbered in Montreal and booed in Vancouver. They were tired and frustrated, and things looked bad. But in they end, as we all know, they pulled it out.

 But it wasn’t just on-ice things going on. Here’s a few rare little tidbits:

 Team Canada had a six hour stopover in Paris on the way to Stockholm. Goalie Ed Johnston said this about Paris: “What’s wrong is the same thing you find with all these European cities. Too many old buildings.”

 While in Stockholm, a Swedish fellow at the press conference mentioned that maybe Bobby Orr, who was injured and didn’t play in the series, wasn’t as good as Russian Valeri Kharlamov. “He’s good in the NHL,” said the guy, “but in Europe he’d be only average.” A Canadian who overheard this said, “Put this down. Bobby Orr-healthy-would eat any Czech or Russian alive. And he’d spit out any Swede.”

 In Moscow, the Canadians were seen coming back to their hotel at all hours of the night. While some of the boys were sitting around the lobby of the Grand Hotel, someone mentioned hearing that the Russians had put street crews with jackhammers outside the Canadian team’s windows in the early morning. “No problem,” said one player. “We won’t be in anyway.”

 Coach Harry Sinden celebrated his 40th birthday while overseas. “Ten days ago I was 29,” he said.

 Some Canadian fans who arrived in Moscow found out there were no tickets available for them. These included Maurice Richard, Punch Imlach, former referee-in-chief Carl Voss, and legendary wrestler Whipper Billy Watson. Those left out were given three options: they could take an all-expenses paid 10-day tour of Copenhagen; they could fly home and be refunded; or they could stay and take their chances on finding tickets. Most chose the third option.

 Dennis Hull, after a tour of Moscow, gushed, “I really like the place. It reminds me of Buffalo.”

Islanders’ Fans Have To Find Better Reasons To Hate The Habs Than These

      The silliest thing came to my attention the other day. A nice Habs’ fan commented on this site that she’d been reading “Islanders Beat” and some Islanders’ fan was saying that the big reasons Islanders’ fans don’t like the Montreal Canadiens is because Habs’ fans think Bobby Orr was a better defenceman than Denis Potvin, and that we also hold a grudge because the Islanders won four straight Stanley Cups in the early 1980’s.

 

Other teams’ fans might come up with a lot of reasons to dislike the Habs, but these two reasons are just plain silly. Do you dislike the Islanders because they were great in the early ’80’s? Or did you even think about this?

 

And about Orr and Potvin. Orr is considered possibly the greatest player ever. Potvin was listed 19th out of 100th best in the Hockey News.

 

Orr dominated. Potvin didn’t nearly as much.

 

Orr was popular with his teammates. Potvin’s teammates thought he was arrogant and somewhat phony, which I admit is neither here nor there. I just thought I’d throw it in.

 

Potvin played 1060 games, racking up 310 goals and 742 assists for 1052 points. He won the Norris trophy for league’s best defenceman three times.

 

Orr won the Norris eight time and collected 270 goals and 645 assists for 915 points in 657 games. And half of these games he played with bad knees that ended his career prematurely.

 

What silliness from some Islanders’ fans.

 

Maybe they’re just mad because Montreal has a better team than them.

 

 

 

Mothers Throw Things Out. It’s Just What They Do. No One Knows Why… Plus… A Boston Bruin Behaving Badly.

Even in 1934 the Boston Bruins were a dastardly bunch. Of course, that’s not anything new. Every year they’re a dastardly bunch.

 

Why is that? Does it have something to do with the Babe Ruth curse, or trading Bobby Orr to Chicago?  I think it’s something only schooled professionals might be able to figure out.

 

For example, in 1934, Bruins defenceman Eddie Shore clubbed Toronto’s Ace Bailey over the head. In fact, he clubbed him so hard, he ended Bailey’s career by fracturing his skull.  But worse than that, he almost ended the poor guy’s life.

 

It was such a terrible situation that later that same year, a charity game between the Leafs and the league’s best players was held in Toronto to help the Bailey family, and $23,000 was raised.

 

And this was the beginning of the annual NHL all-star game. 

 

When Shore did this to Bailey, my father was 14 years old, and he felt bad about what had happened. So he wrote a little get-well letter to Bailey while the player lay between life and death in a Toronto hospital.

 

A while later, a letter arrived for my dad, and it was from Bailey’s wife, thanking him for his kind thoughts.

 

And what happened to the letter?

 

It disappeared when he went into the army, never to be seen again, he explained. Must have got thrown out by his mother, he added.

 

Why do mothers throw out their kids’ good stuff, like hockey cards, baseball gloves, favourite t-shirts that might only have a few holes in it, and letters from Ace Bailey’s wife?

 

Mothers might not be as dastardly as the Bruin Bruins, but they throw out good stuff.

Seeing George Chuvalo and Bobby Orr Do Their Thing, All In One Day

When I was young and not too bright, I hitchhiked across much of Canada three times. There was never any money for motels or hot meals in restaurants, only a few bucks for potato chips and cigarettes. These smelly, mosquito-bitten trips usually took about eight days or more each way.

 I was always a hitchhiker. At 14, while living with a family for a month in St. Hyacinthe, Quebec on a French-English exchange, my new buddy Normand Chaput and I stuck our thumbs out and toured a big part of the province, even camping out one night on the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City.

 When Normand came to live with us for a month in Orillia that same summer, he and I hit the road again. And when we did, just a few hours later, only 30 miles up the road, we saw two different icons doing what they do best.

 We were let off at a gas station near Gravenhurst, where a small crowd had gathered around a makeshift boxing ring, and we had a look. We watched as a young George Chuvalo, then Canadian heavyweight boxing champ, sparred with a partner.

 There he was, the man who would twice take on Mohammed Ali, taking big-time shots to the face at a gas station parking lot.

 After the fight, Normand and I carried on to Bracebridge, to the big exhibition charity game between the Orillia Pepsi’s senior club, and the newly assembled Muskoka All-Stars. And because the Muskoka All-Stars were a bit of a stacked team with several pros on it, a young, slight, blond-haired kid was loaned to Orillia to help make the teams more equal.

 But it wasn’t equal at all. The blond-haired kid, Bobby Orr, having just completed his first season with the Oshawa Generals, was, at 16 years old, dominating the game so much, so thoroughly, he had both the fans and the other players on the ice laughing and shaking their heads in admiration. He owned the puck, skated through the older, more experienced opponents, skated back hard and broke up oncoming rushes, and controlled and dazzled. It was a major eye-opener for me, Normand, and a lot of people in the Bracebridge Arena.

 Hitchhiking with Normand was just the beginning. It seemed like wherever I went, I hitchhiked. A few years later I thumbed my way to Los Angeles after taking the train to Vancouver, and after that, at 19, began my three trips across Canada.

I don’t pick up hitchhikers now, it’s too risky. And it was probably almost as dangerous then, but I didn’t realize it. Maybe I dodged a bullet. And it was hard work, dirty, and uncomfortable, and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

 But I got to see George Chuvalo and Bobby Orr in action, and that made the dirt and car fumes all worthwhile.

It’s A Shame Bobby Orr Never Played For The Habs

Another old game was on the tube the other night, this time from April, 1971, and it involved the Toronto Maple Leafs hosting the Boston Bruins at Maple Leaf Gardens. But forget about the usual cast of characters. There was only one player to watch, and it was Bobby Orr, in his prime.

 The first thing you noticed about Orr is that even though he was a defenceman, he was the most beautiful skater on the ice, a notch above the rest. He would take the puck from behind the Bruins net, wind up, and in only a few strides, it seemed, he was entering Leaf territory, skating like the wind, skating like he was still on a frozen lake back home in Parry Sound, and outskating even the quickest of the quick like Dave Keon and Darryl Sittler.

 When Orr bumped into someone, the other went down because Orr was as solid as a rock. His shot was low and accurate. He played the power play, killed penalties, took his regular shifts, and mesmorized at every turn. The Toronto crowd booed him every time he touched the puck, but that’s what happens when you’re a player of his calibre.

 Time after time he would rush with the puck, and when the occasion was called for, he would turn sharply, retreat, and start over. The Russians in the 1960’s and ’70’s were known for this, but never did any of them do it at full speed the way Orr did. And for the Russians, it was a practised play. Orr did everything on instinct. He was Michelangelo, Pavarotti, Fred Astaire, and Northern Dancer. He was born to be better than everyone else.  

 Don Cherry has always maintained that Orr was the greatest ever, and I have no qualms with this statement. He was such a beautiful player who made everyone else look ordinary. What a shame his career was cut short with knee problems. What a shame he didn’t play in the 1972 Canada-Russia series.

 And what a shame he never played for Montreal. Imagine.

 

Sidney Crosby Takes The Bull By The Horns And Wakes His Penguins Up

The good news for the Pittsburgh Penguins is their three big guys, Crosby, Malkin, and Hossa, played well. The even better news for the Penguins is that they won game three, and are now pretty well back in the series. But not quite.

Sidney Crosby did what all great stars throughout the years have done. Stepped forward and scored huge goals in big games. Like Orr did, And Richard, Howe, Messier, Lemieux, Gretzky, and all the great ones over the years did.

Tonight, he netted the first two of the game, which broke the team goal drought, and which got the Penguins going.

That’s why he’s a star. He acts like one.

The Penguins barely won game three, though, hanging on for dear life through the third period. And all they have to do is win the next three out of four games.

So I’m not going to predict anything. I’m not Kreskin. It’s sort of possible that Pittsburgh could come all the way back and win this series. I doubt it, but it’s possible.

And like Toe Blake said, “predictions are for gypsys.”

One thing I feel though. Penguins defenceman Hal Gill should be read the riot act. What guys like Gill are known for are silly physical penalties that happen because the skill level isn’t quite up there. He can cost his team the game, which almost happened tonight.

One other note regarding tonight’s game on CBC. Pittsburgh cameras are placed alnost as high up as they are in Tampa. These cameras should be down at least fifteen feet. Detroit’s are. Lots of teams are. Although lots aren’t. I don’t know why. 

In Montreal news.

Guy Lafleur has apparently said that when Saku Koivu and Alex Kovalev become free agents in 2009, the Habs should concentrate more on signing Kovalev. He said Koivu is too serious and business-like in the dressing room, too demanding of his teammates.

What the hell is wrong with that? That just tells me that Koivu is about winning, is about making sure he and his teammates give their all. This is the way Mark Messier was, and Ted Lindsay years ago, and so many other great leaders. These guys have all summer to relax, joke around, have a good time. During the season, they’d better perform, better take it seriously. They’re being paid enough money.

If Koivu’s teammates, and there’s probably only a couple if any, don’t like his hard-core expectations, they should take up ballet instead.

Of course, this could be just one more case of Lafleur saying things that maybe he shouldn’t be saying. He’s been doing this for more than thirty years.

I say the team should concentrate on signing both. They’re equally important in the scheme of things in Montreal.

But I honestly do like the tough approach from the captain.

Pittsburgh and Detroit Go For The Cup. This Is Good, I Suppose.

Two real good teams are going to tangle for the Stanley Cup. I’ve got no complaints about this. It’s not like it’s the Florida Panthers, Carolina Hurricane, or Tampa Bay Lightening. Or even, dare I say, the Anaheim Ducks.

No, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings are a solid matchup and two good hockey towns to boot. Pittsburgh had an NHL team in 1925, the Pirates, which lasted until 1930, and the city’s had the Penguins since league expansion in 1967.

Detroit’s been in the league since 1926 when they took over the Victoria BC franchise. The city and team like to call itself Hockeytown, which is a little off. If Detroit’s Hockeytown, then Montreal and Toronto must be Hockeycities.

And if the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit doesn’t start getting more fans in the seats, the nickname might have to be changed to ‘Used to Be Hockeytown.’

This leads me to my second complaint. It’s fine that Gordie Howe is called Mr. Hockey, but isn’t that for others to label the man? My personal opinion is, he shouldn’t be signing autographs as “Gordie Howe, Mr. Hockey.” Doesn’t that make him just a little bit full of himself?

Gordie Howe is considered by not all, but many, as the greatest ever. Greater than Gretzky, Orr, Richard, and Lemieux. It’s a judgement call. Hall of Fame goalie Glenn Hall told me Howe was the best there was.

He doesn’t need to blow his own horn. Let others do that for him. Let others call him Mr. Hockey.

And I say this with the utmost respect for Mr. Howe.

Am I wrong for thinking this? I’m pretty sure Mario never signed as Mario “The Magnificent One” Lemieux, or Orr as Bobby “The World’s Greatest Defenceman” Orr, or Maurice “Hero of a Province” Richard.

This year’s final is a sexy affair because of so many stars involved. Crosby, Malkin, Hossa, Staal, Malone, Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Franzen, Lidstrom, Draper. And the guy who played on the original 1926 Wings, Chris Chelios.

It’ll be good. I may even watch some of it.

The thing begins Saturday in Detroit.