I am a Flames fan – I have been a fan since the time before Lanny MacDonald retired, before Theo Fleury’s short time as captain, and before Calgary won the coveted Stanley Cup. I will always be a Calgary Flames fan.
Yet, I know enough about hockey to be able to appreciate what other players, team, coaches, and clubs have done for the game. I understand the sacrifice and contribution that others have made in order to help the game progress into what it is today.
One such player – my favorite hockey player of all time – is Bobby Orr.
Some of us weren’t lucky enough to watch the hockey great during his career, but we have seen the videos, heard the stories, and relived the time of old school hockey through our grandparents, aunts and uncles, and parents. Hockey was different back then, we can’t fully understand the evolution of the game until we close our mouths, open our ears, and listen to the people who have lived through it.
Friday morning, I opened my eyes and a smile made its way across my face as I realized that, in the evening, I would be in the same room as my hero, Mr. Orr. I packed my bags, I got in the vehicle, and I hit the highway for the long drive ahead. Three hours, two pit-stops, and a lot of coffee later, I arrived at the hotel with an armful of bags and a lot of excitement inside. A little later, after I had checked into the hotel, I made my way downstairs to the lounge to have something to eat and watch hockey highlights on the tv screens.
Imagine my surprise when I noticed Dennis Hull, former Chicago Blackhawks player (1965 – 1977), walk through the door of the hotel. After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I realized that he had disappeared around the corner and it was too late to approach him.
A few minutes later, I met up with my family and we made our way over to TCU Place, where Mr. Orr was to be speaking that evening. Soon after we had arrived, everyone was asked to make their way upstairs to the dining hall so that the evenings program could begin.
The lights dimmed, the crowd quieted, and the announcer came over the speakers to announce the night’s Master of Ceremonies as none other than Mr. Dennis Hull. The crowd was on their feet as a roar of applause filled the dining area. I couldn’t contain my smile as Mr. Hull waved to the crowd and then took a seat “in the round, or whatever the h*** they call it.” He is truly one of the most comedic former hockey players I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to.
As everyone remained standing, the announcer introduced another sports great. I have never been a huge football fan, but I couldn’t help but feel a kinship to those who are big football fans (especially the Saskatchewan Roughrider fans who seemed predominant in the dining room that night) when John Chick walked through the crowd with the Grey Cup held high over his head and huge smile of pride on his face.
The applause died down, the spotlight shone against the far wall, and the announcer explained some of the accomplishments of the former Boston Bruins player. They recalled his charity work, his advocacy towards children in sports, his numerous awards and hockey stats, and his contribution to the game of hockey.
When Bobby Orr walked out into the dining room and made his way through the crowd, I could barely clap because I was overcome with appreciation for the most well-known defenseman in the history of hockey. The smile on his face was infectious, his aura filled the room with excitement, and he seemed genuinely happy to be at the event.
I won’t reiterate every little thing that Mr. Hull, Mr. Chick, and Mr. Orr had said that evening during the dinner, but I can guarantee you that there was a lot of laughter and a great time had by all. Dennis Hull has a great sense of humor, John Chick seems genuine and appreciative of everything he’s achieved, and Bobby Orr is as real in person as his legacy makes him him out to be.
Bobby Orr seemed to have a good time as he listened to Dennis Hull and John Chick and then took the stage himself. He quoted his father, as he did in his book, who said, “have fun, play the game, and we’ll see what happens,” which was met with an abundance of nodding and a roar of agreement from the crowd. Mr. Orr believes this to be an important element in hockey – to have fun – and his message was loud and clear.
Even if you’re not necessarily a Bruins fan, we can all understand and appreciate what Bobby Orr has done for the game. He changed the face of defense when he played multiple positions while still manning his position on the blue line, he was the first player to negotiate a million-dollar contract, and he is now a player representative through the Orr Hockey Group Agency. Bobby seems genuinely happy and content with what he has and he is always respectful of everyone.
He’s a legend, a man filled with sincerity, and a notorious former player of the game we all love. His gift to the game of hockey has lived on through the generations and he’s so humble that he doesn’t even seem to understand the impact he has made. He stands up for what is right in the world, not just in the game of hockey but in life itself, and it’s very rare to see him without his endearing Bobby Orr smile. He is a mentor, a role model, and the type of person that the world needs more of.