Shaw: Happy birthday to the great Bobby Orr

Columnist Jim Shaw marks legendary hockey player Bobby Orr's birthday by recalling the time he interviewed the star defenseman.

As a 22-year-old broadcast journalism student, columnist Jim Shaw had the opportunity to interview hockey legend Bobby Orr, then a member of the Chicago Blackhawks. Orr is considered to be one of the greatest hockey players of all time.
Contributed / Jim Shaw

Happy 75th birthday to the greatest hockey player of all time. The incomparable Bobby Orr. I know what many of you are saying, what about Wayne Gretzky? Well, Gretzky was the best hockey player over a lifetime, but nobody was better than Bobby Orr in his prime.

Orr, a superstar for the Boston Bruins, revolutionized the game. In an incredible feat, he is the only defenseman in the history of the National Hockey League to lead the league in scoring. Orr still holds the record for most points in a season by a defenseman, with an amazing 139.

In addition, Orr has the record for plus/minus in a season (goals scored by his team when he was on the ice versus goals scored against his team when he was off the ice) with an off-the-charts 124. Oh, and he could also play defense, which is why he won the Norris Trophy as best defenseman for eight seasons in a row.

As a teenager, I had the privilege of attending games in the old Boston Garden when Orr was playing, and you could feel the electricity. Orr’s end to end rushes were breathtaking. His skating was spectacular. His stickhandling, passing and slap shots were extraordinary.

When Orr played in Boston, the Bruins were the most popular team in town and Orr was the most popular person in town. Bruins fever was everywhere. Orr was idolized. The most popular bumper sticker in town then was “God Bless Orr Country.” The second most popular bumper sticker in town was, “Jesus Saves, but Esposito Scores on the Rebound.”


Unfortunately, Orr had horrible knee injuries, and by the end of his career, he could barely skate or walk. He spent his last two seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks, but he could only play in 26 games for the Blackhawks before he had to retire.

When Orr was with the Blackhawks, I was a 22-year-old graduate student in broadcast journalism at Northwestern University in Chicago. I convinced my professor to allow me to do a story on the Blackhawks. We videotaped the team’s practice and then headed to the team’s office, having no idea if anyone would talk to me.

Then it happened. After a few minutes in the office, the legendary Orr walked in. I could barely contain my excitement. I was awestruck. I asked the receptionist to ask Orr if he would do an interview with me. She did, and Orr agreed. A couple minutes later, Orr walks over, shakes hands with me, and asks my name.

In answering my first question, Orr started with, “Well, I’ll tell you, Jim.” I thought, wow! The great Bobby Orr called me Jim! When I got back to the newsroom, I had to show all my classmates.

I can’t remember anything else Orr said during the interview. I do remember that he was very nice and friendly.

The magnificent Bobby Orr was the first famous person I ever interviewed. To this day, it remains one of the great thrills of my life.

Shaw is a former WDAY TV reporter and former KVRR TV news director.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.



Opinion by Jim Shaw
InForum columnist Jim Shaw is a former WDAY TV reporter and former KVRR TV news director.
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