Monday, March 24, 2008

Bobby Orr’s Birthday

Last Thursday, March 20, 2008 was Bobby Orr’s 60th Birthday. I stuck me as interesting on a few fronts. Here in West Vancouver, we had the pleasure of seeing Bobby contribute to Darwin Head’s winning of several cars and $1,000,000 in a GM sponsored puck shoot at GM Place. The hug fest that followed Drawin’s success left you with the distinct impression that Bobby was genuinely excited for the guy. As Darwin made the rounds of local sports talk the next day or two, he returned the sentiments saying the million bucks was nice but the real treasure was he had gotten to hang out with Bobby Orr for a day.

The link between Darwin Head’s success and Bobby’s lack of financial success as a player is tragic. Many believe that Bobby was hockey’s first millionaire. This is just not true. The Boston organization paid Bobby about $75,000 for his first two years. In 1971-72 Boston did award Bobby a $200,000 per year contract with a five year term giving him $1 million over the life of that contract.

In the same era, Derek Sanderson and Bobby Hull were both lured away to the WHA with big contracts. Sanderson was to be paid $2.65 million by the Philly Blazers. Sanderson only played eight games with the Blazers before returning to the NHL. In 1972-73 Bobby Hull was given a $2.75 million over ten years. The contract called for $1 million up front. Bobby Hull was most likely your first million per year hockey player.

Here is an amazing Orr fact that is true. Bobby was elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame at age 31, the youngest player ever inducted. Bobby won eight consecutive Norris Trophies between 1968 and 1975. If there is any doubt that Orr defined the position of defense during that time consider that Harry Howell preceded and Denis Potvin followed him as the bookend Norris winners.

Bobby now heads up Orr Hockey Group and is the agent for several players including Jason Spezza, the Staal Brothers, Rick DiPietro and Nathan Horton and several other young talents.


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