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Fanspeak: Bobby Orr named best Bruin in franchise history

Aug 29, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT

Tampa Bay Lightning v Boston Bruins - Game Five Getty Images

This summer, NBC Sports’ social media team is conducting the #NHLGreatest initiative, designed for fans to choose the best player in each franchise’s history. Balloting was conducted through three platforms — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — with thousands of votes being cast. The results of this initiative will be released throughout the month of August, in conjunction with PHT’s Team of the Day series.

Boston Bruins

1. Bobby Orr (2598)

2. Ray Bourque (529)

3. Phil Esposito (172)

4. Patrice Bergeron (155)

5. Zdeno Chara (141)

Any credible discussion regarding the greatest player in NHL history requires at least a mention of Boston Bruins legend Bobby Orr, who set a standard for defenseman that might not ever be approached.

The list of awards he accrued during his tragically brief career is just staggering, especially when you consider how rare it is for a defenseman to take home a single Hart Trophy, let alone multiple ones:

1966-67: Calder Trophy
1967-68: Norris Memorial Trophy
1968-69: Norris Memorial Trophy
1969-70: Art Ross Trophy, Conn Smythe Trophy, Hart Memorial Trophy, Norris Memorial Trophy
1970-71: NHL Hart Memorial Trophy, Norris Memorial Trophy
1971-72: Conn Smythe Trophy, Hart Memorial Trophy, Norris Memorial Trophy
1972-73: Norris Memorial Trophy
1973-74: Norris Memorial Trophy
1974-75: NHL Art Ross Trophy, Norris Memorial Trophy, NHL Ted Lindsay Award

Oh yeah, he also powered the Bruins to two Stanley Cup victories, celebrating a goal in such a momentous way that it became arguably the most famous photo in league history and was immortalized in statue form.

There have been some great players to wear the spoked B, but everyone else fights for second place after Orr*. It’s honestly kind of silly to even discuss franchise stats in this situation considering Orr’s near-indisputable reputation as the greatest defenseman who ever lived. (Someone somewhere might drudge up an argument for their favorite player, but really?)

Ultimately, the only real complaints about Orr stem from his career being cut short by knee injuries and the regrettable 26 games he spent with the Chicago Blackhawks to end his playing days. Aside from some trolling, those images are easily wiped away after watching a player who was clearly ahead of his time.

* – Interesting that Bergeron edged Chara for the most votes among active players, eh?

  1. lowenni - Aug 29, 2014 at 8:05 PM

    Best ever to play D. You could also just say best ever at any position arguably and leave it at that. Nuff said. I’m a young guy and if there’s one player I wish I could’ve washed from previous generations it’s not Gretzky or Lemieux–it’s Orr.

    • lowenni - Aug 29, 2014 at 8:16 PM


      • blomfeld - Aug 29, 2014 at 8:20 PM

        Well said friend ! :)

    • lowenni - Aug 29, 2014 at 9:21 PM

      Am I really just getting thumbs down because I wasn’t alive when bobby Orr played…?

      • sheckyrimshot - Aug 29, 2014 at 11:04 PM

        nah it’s probably just because blomfeld agreed with you

      • rmccleary97 - Aug 31, 2014 at 12:41 AM

        You’re probably getting thumbs down from the same people who think Lidstrom is the best defenseman ever – as evidenced by a comment made back on Detroit’s PHT day.

    • calise44orr - Aug 29, 2014 at 10:07 PM

      great comments I watched almost every game the legendary Robert Gordon orr played and to even ask this question to me is sacrilege this question should never have come up and I am appalled that it would be asked

      • patsfan1215 - Aug 30, 2014 at 2:17 AM

        I was lucky enough to watch him play and he inspired me to play. He was a great role model for us growing up during his prime. I agree this is a no contest sort of question, but its nice to see how much he is still admired today.

    • rsmaggiemae - Aug 30, 2014 at 1:45 AM

      I am one year younger than Orr, and it was great to see him play
      He was the greatest D man ever to play the game
      I loved watching the Bruins when he played
      Too bad about his knee and he is such a great guy off the ice also, in the way helped
      Sanderson thru the hard times… what a friend
      Read Sandersons book about his life and you will see how much Orr helped him
      I cant believe all the younger fans who have never seen him play as they think some of the D men are so good today but they really dont have a clue as to who the greatest one was
      and I live in Minnesota

      • patsfan1215 - Aug 30, 2014 at 2:24 AM

        RGO’s book is a good read too. But have read Sanderson’s book and he credits Bobby with saving his life. When he went to Chicago the Blackhawks became my 2nd favorite team.

      • witchrunner - Sep 1, 2014 at 9:19 PM

        Ahhhh, you bring back memories! I grew up watching the B’s on Channel 38 and at the old Garden (nosebleed section, mostly). I had the poster of the most famous goal for a number of years. Still wish I had it, but it was destroyed through too many moves. I thought Turk was the “hottest” of the Bruins. I couldn’t believe that he married a gal who he had met who didn’t know who he was or what he did for a living. I imagine that’s for the best. That way you know the person loves you and isn’t a groupie, of which there were plenty. Personally, I still think that the Sanderson, Westfall and Marcotte line was the best penalty killing line the NHL has ever seen.

        Alas, it’s no secret he lived on the edge. Even before Turk’s book I was aware of Bobby’s influence. Not sure how I was aware of a lot of what went on, but…..

        Having seen Orr play a number of times, and Gretzky play a few times, I can say that if I could only have one of them on my team, there’s no doubt I’d take Orr! Definitely the best all around player ever to play the game. Sure wish he didn’t have bum knees and it broke my heart to see him put on a Blackhawk’s uniform. But, it turned out the B’s were right.

        That being said, my favorite was Cheese! I absolutely loved what he and Frosty did with it!

    • amonestere1 - Sep 1, 2014 at 11:58 PM

      I’m not sure why there is such a need by hockey writers to call Orr the BEST DEFENSEMAN in history. He is clearly the best HOCKEY player in history. He really had no position. He was Picasso on ice. He was untouchable in his prime. No one is even close

  2. Shanahammer - Aug 29, 2014 at 8:29 PM

    Wow bruins day was awesome.
    4 posts and one was an ad for nhl15

    Great Job prohockeytalk!!!

  3. blomfeld - Aug 29, 2014 at 8:35 PM

    “Blessed is he who had the chance to watch Bobby Orr in his prime” … Job 16:4

    Suffice it to say friends that I Blomfeld was ‘blessed’ as such and that Bobby Orr is without a doubt the ‘greatest’ hockey player ever, no two ways about it ! The one regret however which I have (as do many others I’m sure) is the fact that he didn’t get the chance to play with Team Canada back in ’72 due to injury. Man, would that have ever been something to see eh ? Anyway, as a straight, red-blooded, Canadian man who attracTs ‘armies’ of female admirers on a daily basis, I have absolutely no problem in saying that …


    ps: Bobby Orr is also reputed to be a ‘bit’ of an Elvis fan eh ? … seriously

  4. puckmepuckyou - Aug 29, 2014 at 8:37 PM

    An amazing all around player. Just imagine what could have been had he not fallen to injury. Easily the greatest hockey player of all time.

  5. rushledger - Aug 29, 2014 at 8:59 PM

    Gretzky Lemieux and Orr the best three to play the game in my humble opinion.

    • dueman - Aug 29, 2014 at 9:04 PM

      Don’t forget Mr Hockey…

  6. 19to77 - Aug 29, 2014 at 9:18 PM

    Bergeron finishing over Chara isn’t really that surprising. He’s a career Bruin, a first-round pick of the team and widely considered one of the classiest and most valuable players in the NHL. As much as Chara’s accomplished, Bergeron’s practically treated like a hometown boy in Boston. Also, he’ll play through anything, apparently up to and including broken ribs and a hole in his lung. The guy’s the ideal role model hockey player. Just all heart, all the time.

  7. bullwinkle88 - Aug 29, 2014 at 9:24 PM

    I just wonder why the voting was that close.

    • imleftcoast - Aug 30, 2014 at 12:43 AM

      Phil O is known as a Ranger,.

      • witchrunner - Sep 1, 2014 at 9:27 PM

        Espo will always be known as a Bruin. Although, why the Blackhawks let him go is beyond me. But, I’m sure glad they did. The best trade ever in sports!

  8. hockeyflow33 - Aug 29, 2014 at 9:46 PM

    As someone from Boston, I find it embarrassing that Bergeron and Chara are in the top five when you look back at the hall of famers that have played for the Bruins; not that those two aren’t great but there are many, many more players ahead of them.

    • bigbadbruins77 - Aug 29, 2014 at 9:56 PM

      It’s just the young guys voting. Most of us weren’t alive to see the chief and mr. Bruin play etc.

      • hockeyflow33 - Aug 29, 2014 at 10:56 PM

        Neither was I

    • corbag1 - Aug 30, 2014 at 1:51 AM

      Definitly agree im not that old myself but would have the chief and Cam Neely in there before bergeron and chara. Its too bad that because of cheap shots to the knees cut short cams career. . .

  9. nothanksimdriving123 - Aug 29, 2014 at 10:31 PM

    I’m pretty sure most dictionaries define “no brainer” as the question of greatest Boston Bruin. I treasure my autographed photo from when I met Mr Orr in the dressing room before a game in LA and interrupted his cribbage game, for which he was keeping score on a piece of white tape set on the wooden bench.
    I remember when Harry Howell won the Norris Trophy in Orr’s rookie year, he said how glad he was to be the last guy besides Orr who would win it for many years to come.
    But in memory of my dad, I have to add a few honorable mentions from his era: Milt Schmidt, Bobby Bauer and Woody Dumart. We’ll just tuck them and Gerry Cheevers between 3 and 4 on that list up top.

  10. charastein - Aug 30, 2014 at 12:01 AM

    Bobby Orr is a rare person indeed… A guy that is just as awesome a person as he was a player!

    He’s proof that you can be great without being arrogant about it.

  11. corbag1 - Aug 30, 2014 at 1:42 AM

    I agree with first 3 but where is Cam Neely in the top 5? Come on everyone
    Hes still a big part of thwir success now as GM

    • govtminion - Aug 30, 2014 at 7:52 AM

      You beat me to it. Surprised he’s not on here.

      …Then again, it speaks to the great history of this team that the top five is missing a guy like that, and we’re able to look at it and say ‘well, there were only room for five people’. I’d be curious to see what the top ten list would look like.

  12. Wineshard - Aug 30, 2014 at 7:02 PM

    Hard to argue with that top 3, but Sea Bass has to be #4. Also the iconic Cheevers should be in the mix maybe?

  13. luz56 - Aug 30, 2014 at 10:35 PM

    Would live to see players based on the past 25 years…? Then 25 before that and so on….it’s hard to compare sLanny McDonald to a Jarome Iginla….size changed the style of play changed goalie equipment changed and of course travel changed…compare the talent of Calgary Flames 1980-2000…2001-2014

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