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Get The Puck Out

Posted by Jim Botticelli  October 14, 2013 10:13 PM

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Bobby Orr in his early days. Courtesy of

"A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be." ... Wayne Gretzky

Confession: This writer was all-purpose goalie and campfire keeper in his hockey days.

Bobby Orr's new book, Orr: My Story is out tomorrow, Tuesday, October 15. What can we say about Bobby Orr? The best ever? A real mensch who quietly pays it forward? says it well. "Making his professional debut in the 1966-67 season, he would score 13 goals with 28 assists. That was the best point total for a first year defenceman at that time, earning the Calder Memorial Trophy as the league's top rookie and becoming the youngest to recieve that honour. In his second season, limited to only 46 games due to injuries, he was selected for his first NHL All-Star Game and won the Norris Trophy as the league's top defenseman. It would be the first of eight consecutive wins.
Fun fact: He wore #27 during the pre-season, but switched to #4 before the regular season.  In the 1969-70 season, Boston would reach their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance since 1958 against the St. Louis Blues. Already leading the series 3-0, Game 4 would be decided in overtime. Forty seconds into the extra period, Derek Sanderson registered an assist on Bobby Orr's Stanley Cup clinching goal. Upon skating away, he tripped on an opponent's stick and his airborne celebration became one of the most well-known images in hockey."
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Bobby Orr's Rookie Card 1966. Courtesy of

"Truly special athletes, the ones that fathers talk about to their sons and daughters, change the game they play. Arguments emerged late in the 20th century about who most deserved to be called the greatest hockey player of all time. Perhaps it was the retirement of Wayne Gretzky in 1999, or perhaps it was a desire to sum up 100 years of a sport that had come into its own and grown exponentially around the world that led to these discussions.

Hockey fans in Parry Sound, Ontario, in the late 1950s saw a lot of this hockey genius in its infancy. Doug Orr, Bobby's dad, had been a speedy player and gifted scorer in his own right. He wanted his son, still small for his age but also enormously talented, to play forward in order to take advantage of his speed and puckhandling abilities. Bucko McDonald, a former NHLer who played defense in the 1930s and 1940s and coached Bobby when the youngster was 11 and 12, believed his charge had all the makings of an outstanding defenseman. He taught Bobby the ins and outs of the position and encouraged him to use his offensive skills as well.

Professional teams agreed. The Boston Bruins went to unusual lengths to land the small prospect. When Orr was 14, Boston made arrangements for him to play with the Oshawa Generals in the metro Junior A League. He continued to live at home and commute to each game. Though he didn't attend a single practice with the team, Orr was selected to the league's Second All-Star Team. All the speedy youngster required was size to make him a bona fide star. He was 5'6" and 135 pounds at 14. The next year, when he moved to an Oshawa high school and played in the Ontario junior league, he was 5'9" and 25 pounds heavier. By the time his junior career was over - when he was all of 17 and a man playing with boys - he was a sturdy 6' and almost 200 pounds. The phenomenon Boston fans had been reading about since he was a freckle-faced kid with a brushcut was ready to enter the professional game." Excerpt from

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Book signings begin on October 21 in New York. No information about local signings was googlable as of this writing. 

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About the author

Jim Botticelli, a 1976 Northeastern University graduate, is a retired Boston Public Schools teacher. In college, he drove a cab and learned the city's cow paths. An avid collector of More »

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