Tag Archives: Oshawa Generals

16-Year Old Orr

From Maclean’s magazine, February 20, 1965, which I’ve had since it first appeared on newsstands.

It’s sixteen year old Bobby Orr playing for the Oshawa Generals, with Peter Mahovlich wearing number 20 for the Hamilton Red Wings.

The caption under the photo asks the question; “Has Boston Captured the NHL’s Next Superstar?”

In the article, when asked if the publicity bothered him, the young Orr replied, “I try not to read about myself. So many people have told me not to get a swelled head that I’m scared to read the stuff.”

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

(From July 30, 2008)

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 too many hitchhikers now. It’s too risky. And it was probably almost as dangerous then, but I didn’t realize it, and maybe I dodged a big bullet. It was also 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, all in one day, and that made some of the dirt and car fumes worthwhile.

Lindros Could Piss Off The Pope

The question has been asked before. Should Eric Lindros be in the Hall of Fame at some point in the near future?

If you look at his numbers, the answer is yes. But as we all know, Eric Lindros is much more than mere numbers.

In 760 games, the big guy scored 372 goals and added 493 assists for 865 points. Compare this to another definitive power forward, Cam Neely, who was inducted into the Hall in 2005. Neely played 726 games and had 395 goals and 299 assists for 694 points.

But Neely is loved and admired by many. Lindros on the other hand……..

Lindros rocked the boat from the get-go, and this certainly must be contibuting to the reluctance by some to put him in the shrine. In junior he was drafted by the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds but refused to report because it was too far from his home and family in Toronto, and the Lindros’ felt the education system up there wasn’t quite up to scratch.

The family held their ground and the young gun ended up playing for the Oshawa Generals, which was where they wanted him all along.

But if that wasn’t enough, Eric was chosen by the Quebec Nordiques in the NHL draft and he refused to join them too, citing language problems, poor marketing there, and the family felt that a hard-core Quebec town would be hard on a highly-publicized anglophone if he stumbled and fell short of his superstar status. And fans everywhere simply couldn’t fathom that a player was trying to decide on the perfect place to play instead of just going where he was told to go.

So young Eric and his aggressive parents managed to piss off much of the hockey world.

When the dust settled, Lindros became a Philadelphia Flyers after the Flyers sent to Quebec Peter Forsberg, Ron Hextall, Chris Simon, Mike Ricci, Kerry Huffman, Steve Duchesne, a 1st round draft pick in 1993 which became Jocelyn Thibault, another 1st round draft pick in 1994, and $15,000,000 cash.

Whew. If this was a typrwriter I would have run out of ribbon ink listing all these players given up for the big fellow.

In true Lindrosying fashion, things weren’t exactly rosy in Philadelphia either, with Eric and mom and pop fighting with GM Bobby Clarke, but this is fairly understandable. Clarke is a no-nonsense, old school, belligerent warrior who wouldn’t stand for Carl and Bonnie Lindros having any say in the way their son was treated, and it became the Clarke-Lindros war. But Bobby Clarke is Bobby Clarke, a man with uncouth thoughts drowning his brain cells (see his Roger |Neilson cancer quote at the bottom), and he’s also remained buddies with the biggest crook and boor in the history of the game – Alan Eagleson.

So any fighting with Bobby Clarke should never enter in to any Lindros/ Hall of Fame discussions.

In the end, Lindros’ career was cut down with about five too many concussions, and he didn’t exactly go out with a bang. More like a huge headache.

Maybe the big guy should at some point be in the Hall. He was a great player in his prime, a guy with slick moves normally reserved for smaller men, and he crashed and banged and was in many ways, a perfect hockey player. Don’t forget, he played a big role in the 1991 Canada Cup alongside the greatest NHL stars of the day and against the greatest European players, and he was still a junior. That was most impressive, indeed.

But my thinking is, let him sweat and wonder for awhile, just like he made fans do in Sault Ste. Marie and Quebec. And his mom and dad will have no say now in his Hall of Fame quest.

(Bobby Clarke may have been a great player and was an important member of Team Canada during the 1972 Summit Series, but he can be as crude and ridiculous as his buddy Eagleson. Here’s what Clarke said about Roger Neilson, then on the Flyers coaching staff, getting cancer. “Roger got cancer. That wasn’t our fault. We didn’t tell him to go and get cancer. It’s too bad that he did. We feel sorry for him, but then he went and got goofy.”)

Bruins Fans Have Bobby Orr. They’re A Lucky Bunch

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The Boston Bruins may not have won as many Stanley Cups as Montreal over the years, but they have one thing they can call their own that the Canadiens can’t. One unbelievable thing to call their own: They have Bobby Orr.

There he was at Fenway looking good, healthy, happy, wearing his number four Bruins sweater, holding a hockey stick in his hands, out on the ice with the Bruins where he should be.

They’re a lucky bunch, those Boston fans. Bobby Orr would’ve looked great in a Montreal uniform. And when I see him now I also see the young guy from Parry Sound, a town an hour away from my hometown Orillia, and Bobby Orr was a legendary name in all the area as a sterling graduate of minor hockey and a player like no other.

I saw him play in Bracebridge when he was still an Oshawa General, and he played an exhibition game for the Orillia seniors against a Muskoka all-star team. The hockey was good, these were seasoned men playing, but young Orr, who was about 16 or so, dominated the game and I remember players from the Muskoka All-Stars shaking their heads and almost laughing at how good this young thoroughbred was.

As cool as the Winter Classic game at Fenway Park was on this first day of 2010, the best part was seeing Orr, and seeing him look good.

Like I say, he would’ve looked great in a Canadiens uniform.

Oh, and the Bruins beat the Flyers 2-1 in overtime. I’ll bet Bobby Orr was smiling.


How Hockey’s Hottest 16-Year Old Is Groomed For Stardom

From Maclean’s magazine, February 20, 1965. Sixteen year old Bobby Orr playing for the Oshawa Generals. That’s Peter Mahovlich wearing number 20 for the Hamilton Red Wings. The caption under the photo asks the question; “Has Boston Captured the NHL’s Next Superstar?”

In the article, when asked if the publicity bothered him, the young Orr replied, “I try not to read about myself. So many people have told me not to get a swelled head that I’m I’m scared to read the stuff.”

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The Old Orillia Arena Is Coming To An End

 It was announced a few days back that my old hometown arena in Orillia is on its last legs, and that its doors are now locked due to structural damage.

It’s a sad thought for me, the idea that the old arena could be no more. But it’s 60 years old, built by volunteers after the war, and I suppose its time has come.

There are so many memories.

Rocket Richard came there in 1962. I was there and watched as he skated around, waved to the crowd, dropped the puck for some brief little kids’ games, and made a small speech.

I learned to skate and play hockey at this old barn, and I became good enough to join all-star teams that took on all comers from central and southern Ontario.

My dad, because he was a sign painter, was one of the guys who sometimes painted the lines on the ice at the arena.

Lester Pearson held a political rally there, and the Prime Minister signed my ticket stub, “PM.”

Every Sunday afternoon was public skating, and it was a time when I’d work up enough nerve to ask a pretty girl to hold my hand and skate with me for a few minutes. It was nerve wracking. And of course, midway through public skating, everything would stop, and many of us would grab shovels and clean the ice as those pretty young girls watched with admiration at how talented we were with a shovel.

The Los Angeles Kings played an exhibition game there before they’d even played their first game ever in the NHL.

The Oshawa Generals and Niagara Falls Flyers came to town. The Orillia newspaper beforehand ran a photo of Flyers defenceman Don Awrey, and even though I hadn’t heard of him, when the Flyers walked through the lobby, I called out if Don Awrey was there. Ron Schock grabbed my toque and pulled it over my eyes.

That same night, the Generals and Flyers got into a massive bench-clearing brawl started, I believe, by Bill Goldsworthy.

Don Messer’s Jubilee played here, and I said hello to singer Tommy Hunter.

I practically lived at the Orillia arena, and I can still smell the smells, feel the old wool hockey sweaters on my skin, taste the hot dogs and hot chocolate, picture the dressing rooms and recall some of the shenanigans that went on in there, and of course, the adrenaline rush as we stood up from our benches, walked the short way to the ice, and skated out to the cheers of a several dozen family and friends.

It looks like, I guess, the old arena will soon be no more. It’s going to be sad, because it was my youth. I spent more time there than anywhere else. It was where my friends were, where those pretty girls were, where my hockey was.

It was where I tried so hard to get better so I could become a Montreal Canadien some day.

Things Were Slightly Cheaper In The 1940’s

This is an ad from a 1940’s newspaper I found years ago. As you can see, prices were somewhat less than they are today. 

Imagine, the Rocket, Elmer Lach, Toe Blake, Teeder Kennedy, Howie Meeker, Turk Broda – all the boys, for 75 cents.

 

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.