His name is Bobby Orr — you might have heard of him — and he was honored along with his teammates from the 1970 Bruins. The team was a memorable bunch, and almost all of them were on hand to be honored on Monday. Without even trying, Orr stood out among his teammates.
That is, of course, with good reason. He was the best hockey player to ever put on skates, and he's the biggest sports legend this city has ever known. When people think of the 1970 Bruins, the first thing that comes to their minds is the image of Orr flying through the air, scoring the game-winning, Stanley Cup-clinching goal over St. Louis at the Boston Garden. He is the face of a franchise that has been around since 1924.
Yet on Monday night, in one great display of humility, Orr simply wanted to be one of the guys. This was an honor presented to the team — not to Orr — and clearly, he took that to heart.
So when WEEI's Dale Arnold and Michael Holley, the co-emcees of the event, walked around the stage, offering the microphone to the likes of Derek Sanderson, Johnny Bucyk, Ken Hodge, John McKenzie, Eddie Johnston and a host of others, Orr sat on the side, in the second row, smiling, laughing and enjoying the moment with his teammates.
Holley pressed Sanderson for some wild stories from the '70s, but Turk wouldn't give in. Arnold talked with 92-year-old Milt Schmidt, who was the general manager of that team, and Harry Sinden, the coach. Everyone had a chance to reminisce about that Cup run, crack jokes about former teammates and soak in the appreciation from the crowd on hand.
Orr never touched the microphone.
That's not to say that he ignored everyone who wanted to talk to him — Orr wouldn't do that either. There were some writers who wished to speak with him when he wasn't on stage, and he obliged. He talked about the honor that the team was celebrating together, he talked about the celebration of hockey in the entire region, about the Bruins' chances of landing Taylor Hall, about the status of the current Bruins team. He talked about whatever people wanted him to talk about, but he didn't talk about himself.
With some athletes, deferring the attention is sometimes just a show, an attempt to appear selfless and ego-free. With Orr, it is genuine.
When a teammate declared plainly during the ceremony that Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux weren't even close to being the kind of player that Orr was, the cameras caught the great No. 4 looking almost embarrassed by the claim. He was flattered, yes, but he sought no spotlight. He wanted to just be part of a greater group, but when you're Bobby Orr, that's simply hard to do.
Based on the attempt to blend in on Monday night, Orr probably would not want this story to be written about him. It's that grace, humility and appreciation for the fans of the game, however, that required it to be recorded.
Sorry, Bobby, it's just a little bit different when you're involved.
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