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Days of Orr

As a diehard Toronto Maple Leafs fan growing up, I didn’t have much interest in the big, bad Boston Bruins.

But when I was recently given a copy of Bobby Orr’s new autobiography (Orr: My Story)—by someone unaware of that past history—I decided to try reading it. I found it surprisingly interesting.

Orr says he had no interest in writing a biography unless he had something useful to say in it. But, in fact, he makes several interesting observations on the game of hockey and on life. Orr contrasts his own experience playing pickup hockey on frozen lakes and rivers with the organized arena hockey played by today’s youngsters and makes the following observations:

1. Ice rental costs and hotel expenses for out-of-town tournaments make today’s hockey too expensive for many families. If he was growing up today, Orr probably couldn’t have afforded to play.

2. Today’s hockey is too serious. Hockey should be fun for the many players who will never make it to the NHL—and even for those who do.

3. Today’s hockey is too regimented. Orr says that playing unorganized hockey with many skaters on the ice encouraged him to be creative, while today’s youngsters are drilled to play a system.

4. The expectations of parents and communities have changed. Orr says that his family and his home town of Parry Sound, Ontario, had high expectations of him and other young hockey players—not that they would make it to the NHL and be successful, but that they would always act respectfully and responsibly.

Orr has some other useful insights—on players taking responsibility for how they play, on overconfidence, on the impact of big professional salaries on hockey players, and on some of the other financial aspects of hockey—but for those you will have to read the book.

 

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