Bobby Orr, at the TD Garden for the 40th anniversary celebration of the 1970 Stanley Cup winning Bruins, addressed the media earlier Thursday. Of course, the conversation eventually turned to the Matt Cooke hit on Marc Savard and whether or not the Bruins will exact some form of justice against the Penguins.
But just as the current Bruins players pointed out, it's hard to get revenge in today's NHL, and Orr understands that the Bruins have to focus on getting two points in the standings.
"The Bruins have to go out tonight and play. It's two points and they're in a fight," Orr said. "The Penguins, they're in tight in their division and they're struggling a little bit. So first of all, I think there's going to be a heck of a hockey game.
"It would be silly for the Bruins to have their key thing be [going] after a player. That's silly. … I was listening to a radio show coming in and a fan says, ‘You gotta go after [Pittsburgh star Sidney] Crosby,' and I mean, come on, that's silly!"
Still, Orr didn't pull any punches in discussing the hit and how the NHL culture has allowed such dirty plays to become commonplace in today's game. Orr believes that players of Savard's caliber and demeanor, players who combine finesse with class and don't for trouble, shouldn't be targeted.
"In my mind, it was an illegal hit," Orr said. "In my mind, a player like Marc Savard, who is a great hockey player, you bump him, you grind him, you get in his way. But he's a player that you don't run over like that."
According to Orr, that kind of disrespect for your fellow players wouldn't have been tolerated when he and his contemporaries graced the ice.
"There were periods where that was understood," Orr said. "It would be like me in my time running over a guy like Jean Beliveau or blindsiding him. You don't do that. I was a pain in the you-know-what, so I got hit. But a guy like Marc, you don't do that."
Unfortunately, as Orr pointed out, the league took away the ability of players to regulate themselves. As a result, the NHL and its teams wind up with situations like Thursday night, where there is a call for justice but no legitimate way to achieve it.
"I think the rules are pretty strict on things like that," Orr said, "but I believe that if they let the players police it for a while, everyone will soon understand. But I'm not sure they'll let them do that."
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