Another soaring moment

Orr delivers again at statue unveiling

By Brendan Hall
Globe Correspondent / May 11, 2010

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On a day in which the Bruins’ greatest player was getting his own statue to greet fans on Causeway Street, there was a moment of technical error.

“Get a teamster to do it!’’ yelled someone in the crowd, drawing laughter, as people struggled to tear the curtain off a statue of Bobby Orr flying the air.

It was fitting, perhaps, that Orr finally grabbed the scissors himself and cut a loose piece of rope, setting the sheet free after some two minutes of struggle. All these years later, still getting it done.

Yesterday’s ceremony unveiling a bronze statue of Bobby Orr flying through the air on the 40th anniversary of his overtime goal that clinched the Stanley Cup was full of iconic praise and lighthearted war stories about the good ol’ days.

There was Mayor Thomas Menino up to his old language tricks again, calling Orr’s goal an “ionic’’ moment in Boston sports history, right up there with “Varitek splitting the uprights.’’

There was Harry Sinden calling the score “an indelible goal in history,’’ making a push to call this particular location “Bobby Orr Place.’’

But mostly, it was moments of reflection about Orr’s charm and fierce loyalty — on the ice, yes, but mostly off of it.

Derek Sanderson has seen it first-hand for four decades. He recalled with delight visits with Orr to Children’s Hospital on game days, and how fired up Orr got from the smiles of ill children. But even at the lowest depths in his long fight with alcoholism, Sanderson said, Orr was there with him.

So when Orr went to the podium and commended Sanderson for sticking through it, Sanderson was significantly touched.

“He knows what I went through, because he went through it with me on numerous occasions,’’ Sanderson said. “Alcoholism is a disease. Once you contract it, there’s no cure. Only one of 37 ever recovers, and without the help of friends and family it’s near impossible.’’

No player on the Bruins or Flyers from last night’s Game 5 at TD Garden is old enough to truly remember the mastery of No. 4 first-hand, but everybody still lights up at the mention of his name.

“Bobby Orr is Bobby Orr. I mean, what else can you say about him that hasn’t been said already?’’ smiled Dennis Wideman. “The thing that impresses me about him is what kind of guy he is still to this day.

“When I played golf with him, I just couldn’t believe how . . . you know, I was pretty intimidated when I met him, I didn’t know what to say, and he’s just so outgoing, so talkative, really makes you feel comfortable. He’s just a real good guy.’’

Said Patrice Bergeron, “He’s pretty much the Bruins. Soon as I came here, I had a chance to actually meet him. I didn’t get a chance to actually see him play, but he’s such a legend, such a gentleman as well when I met him. I think it’s going to mean a lot not only for the Boston Bruins, but also for all the Bruins fans.’’

For the coaches, the praise is even stronger.

Said Bruins coach Claude Julien, “He’s been my idol. When I was growing up, it was Bobby Orr, and I couldn’t play like him — trust me — but I still liked him. I think he’s been an idol for a lot of people. Not only that, but when you get the chance to meet him and spend some time with him, he’s such a great gentleman and fun to be around.’’

Orr choked up at one point in his speech, when praising his parents. He entertained reporters underneath the statue, talking about everything from his playing memories to the current crop of talent (“I like the Krejcis of the world’’) to the future (one of his clients, top prospect Taylor Hall “would make a great Bruin’’).

It was a day to celebrate him. But as usual, he wanted to be deferential.

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