B's still marvel at 'legend of the game' Bobby Orr 50 years later


B's still marvel at 'legend of the game' Bobby Orr 50 years later

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- For many seasoned, diehard Bruins fans, it probably doesn’t seem like it’s been exactly 50 years since No. 4, Bobby Orr, donned the Black and Gold sweater for the first time in his NHL career. But that’s exactly what the date of Oct. 19, 1966 represents in the NHL world, and more specifically for a Bruins organization that gleefully hasn’t been the same since the NHL’s Greatest Of All Time (GOAT, for short) started patrolling the blue line.

The first game was a modest performance for Orr’s standards with a single assist, but the Bruins D-man revolutionized the game over the next decade with incredibly dominant offensive seasons while persevering through debilitating knee injuries. Orr made an entire puck-loving nation fall in love with his game en route to becoming Canadian hockey royalty, and serving an idol to young players like Claude Julien working their way up the puck food chain.

“I’ve been very open about this: as a young kid, he was my idol. I played defense and when I watched him play, I didn’t come close to playing like him, I just loved watching him play. I still remember interviews with him as a kid where he was shy as could be, and today he’s a much different person,” said Julien, with a big smile on his face. “He was a good hockey player whose career ended way too early, but for the short amount of time he played he certainly left his imprint on the game. There’s no doubt he’s a legend, and what I liked about Bobby is that he stayed in the game.

“He’s a great person and he’s fun to be around, and fun to talk to. He’s a quality individual that not only excelled on the ice, but also excelled off the ice. You’re a kid and he’s your idol, and then you turn around and he’s your friend. You’re pretty lucky to have that happen to you because it doesn’t happen to too many people.”

He also spawned an entire generation of hockey-loving sports fans in Boston when his Bruins won the Cup in 1970 and 1972, and were veritable rock stars off the ice. So it’s no surprise Orr will be the star of the show at the home opener on Thursday night when the B’s kick things off on Causeway Street. The Bruins’ No. 1 hockey-playing son will drop the ceremonial first puck prior to the game at TD Garden between the Devils and Bruins, and his Original Six organization will commemorate his 50th anniversary of first suiting up for the Black and Gold five decades ago.

It’s something that longtime Bruins players will be looking forward to even if they weren’t old enough to have witnessed No. 4 do his thing for the Black and Gold, and instead have viewed Orr’s greatness through the prism of grainy black-and-white footage.

“Bobby Orr…it’s really self-explanatory what he means to this city and this organization,” said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. “To have him still around and have him still saying hello sometimes before the games, it really means a lot. Fifty years? Wow, it’s been that long.

“I really love the man. He’s just such a great man, and obviously an unbelievable hockey player and I’m just happy to have him around to see him interact with the other players. Anything he does has such a big effect on everybody: not just the young kids, but even [the veteran players], coaches and management. He is a very special person, and I’m just happy to still have him around.”

Likewise, Patrice Bergeron has been a member of the Bruins organization the longest dating back to his rookie year during the 2003-04 NHL season. So the heart and soul leader and B’s best player has been around Orr for the last 13 years since he was a shy 18-year-old kid coming out of the Quebec Major Junior League, and knows what select, lucky company that puts him in over the years.

“He’s a legend of the game, but an even better person and role model for the younger generation. It’s amazing what he accomplished as a hockey player and what he’s done for the game of hockey,” said Bergeron. “I’m just proud to have a chance to play in the same organization that he was a part of.”

Literally everybody within the Bruins organization beams with pride at the thought Orr is the very best they’ve had to offer over the last 50 years, and that’s obvious whenever anybody begins to discuss the utter brilliance of No. 4, Bobby Orr. 

Haggerty: OT non-call latest instance of Marchand not getting respect he's earned

Haggerty: OT non-call latest instance of Marchand not getting respect he's earned

BOSTON – It’s high time that Brad Marchand starts getting a little more respect around the league.

The latest example came Monday night in the Bruins' 5-4 overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets at TD Garden when Marchand was the victim of a non-call in the extra session on a play that could have won the game for Boston.

Marchand busted in behind the Columbus defense after taking a stretch pass and had a partial breakaway chance on the kind of play that he’s scored on in his sleep this season in the extra session. Rather than giving one of the NHL’s best goal-scorers a chance to show off his dazzling skill in the 3-on-3 OT, Pierre Luc-Dubois wrapped Marchand with both hands from behind in bear hug-type fashion and hauled down the Bruins left winger to prevent him from getting a shot off at the net.

Young referee Kendrick Nicholson got a good look at the play as it happened and didn’t call either a penalty shot (which was warranted, but probably a long shot in this situation) or a minor penalty for holding that was absolutely called for in this situation. Maybe it was an inexperienced referee simply blowing a call in a big moment, but one would hope it’s not the referees continuing to turn a blind eye toward just about anything happening with Marchand.

“Listen, they make their calls. I was more confused about, like I said, I thought there were clearly two icings that directly resulted in goals. That was disappointing to me, but life goes on,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. “We got our power-play opportunities; we were able to covert on one of them, so no. Hopefully, the next time we’re in overtime, a call goes our way. It’s just the way it is.”

It’s always been an uphill battle for Marchand to get the benefit of the doubt from officials, both when it comes to penalties for and against him, based on his past reputation, but that needs to start changing based on his ascension to NHL superstardom in the last few years. Marchand has 31 goals this season and only Alex Ovechkin has scored more goals in the last three seasons than No. 63 for the Bruins, and he’s earned the right to get the star calls in those clutch moments in overtime.

Marchand wasn’t available for comment after the game and the reason was that he was understandably furious about the non-call and probably didn’t want to say something he was going to end up paying dearly for.

It’s time for the NHL to stop busting Marchand’s balls about embellishment and ticky-tack penalties and instead roll out for the NHL royal red carpet for the league’s best and brightest.

Can you imagine Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin on a breakaway in a similar instance in OT with nothing getting called after they were pulled down from behind while moving in all alone for a sure thing game-winner?

The easy answer is “no”, and it’s time for the Bruins organization to begin pushing for Marchand to get those calls and probably even to go to bat for him in those instances so he doesn’t need to keep chirping the league. The same goes for the seemingly NHL-wide habit of breaking down everything on video that Marchand does on the ice looking for the latest transgression or incident can get him in trouble. It all goes for the clear lack of “star” respect toward Marchand despite him being a back-to-back All-Star and Hart Trophy candidate.

Monday night was just the latest example in a decision that might have cost the Bruins a point in overtime, but it’s time for the NHL to start giving No. 63 the treatment the rest of the league’s best players get as the playoffs, and many more big, game-changing calls, approach for the Black and Gold.  



Banged-up Bruins lose two more -- Rick Nash, McQuaid

Banged-up Bruins lose two more -- Rick Nash, McQuaid

BOSTON – It’s another day and another injured player, or two, for the Boston Bruins.

Veteran right winger Rick Nash was a late scratch for the Bruins on Monday night against the Blue Jackets after getting banged up in last weekend’s win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid had to exit due to injury in the third period of Monday night’s 5-4 overtime loss at TD Garden.  

“[Nash] got hit in Tampa, so we thought he was fine. He had an upper-body injury,” said Bruce Cassidy. “This morning, pregame skate, we thought he’d be fine, and it turned out after pregame skate, early afternoon, he wasn’t. So, you know, we had to make a call for Anton Blidh.”

The Nash absence forced the Bruins to recall Blidh from Providence on emergency recall and plug him into the lineup not using him in the last couple of road games in Florida, and it also pushed 21-year-old rookie Ryan Donato into a top-6 role alongside David Krejci in his NHL debut. Clearly things worked out for Donato with a 1-goal, 3-point performance in his first NHL game, and that along with some quality organizational depth is helping them withstand some of the injuries.

McQuaid was held to just 10:42 of ice time that was the fewest among all Bruins D-men on Monday night, but it was unclear exactly what befell him on the ice injury-wise.  

It is getting a little ridiculous for a Bruins team that’s missing Patrice Bergeron (fractured right foot), Zdeno Chara (upper body), Jake DeBrusk (upper body), Charlie McAvoy (sprained left MCL), David Backes (right leg laceration) and now may have to go without Nash (upper body) and McQuaid (undisclosed) as well. Clearly it’s something the Bruins will have to play through for the time being while simply hoping that it all conveniently clears up ahead of the Stanley Cup playoffs. 

“You know, you call a player up [from the AHL], right? We signed one out of college; that helped. So, that’s it. [The injuries] are uncontrollable to a certain extent. It’s kind of enough, now. I would agree. We’ve had our share, so let’s get these guys healthy and get ready to play,” said Cassidy. “I don’t know. You’ve got to play the game in front of you and you just hope the string of, kind of, tough luck, is over.

“That’s it. It’s a physical game. We’ve said all along, to have successful seasons, both regular and playoffs, you need a certain level of health. That’s what we’re hoping, that these guys come back, and that’s it. Until then, we plug the holes and play the game in front of you.”

Plugging those holes will continue to get more and more challenging if the Bruins keep losing players from their lineup on a nightly basis as they may have on Monday with both Nash and McQuaid now banged up as well.