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"Orr: My Story" Book Review - an Old Time Hockey icon opens up

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Gail Oskin

Bobby Orr is one of those rare figures who not only ranks among the absolute greatest in his sport, but also provides fodder for all sorts of "what if" conversations. Chronic knee issues ended his groundbreaking career far too early, with only 9 full seasons under his belt before he struggled to play 36 games between the 1975-76 and 1978-79 seasons.

Of course, in those 9 full seasons he won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenseman a record-setting 8 times.

For such an important figure, however, the legend of Bobby Orr has always seemed to be larger than the personality. In his new book "Orr: My Story", hockey's greatest blueliner pulls back the curtain a bit on one of the most amazing careers in professional sports.

What jumps out with "My Story" is that despite being an autobiography, Orr is most often not the subject being discussed. Instead, he tells the tale of his upbringing and playing career by putting the spotlight on the important people around him at various stages of his life, such as family, coaches, teammates and more.

Along the way, three themes shine through consistently:

  • Personal Responsibility - whether discussing an on-ice failure or the personal calamity that resulted from his relationship with Alan Eagleson, Orr accepts his role in the events of his life, not to wallow in them, but to recognize it and move forward. There's no "blame game" here.
  • Recognition - as mentioned above, at every step along life's journey there are people who play a significant role in any success one individual has, and Orr makes a point of putting the spotlight on those people more than himself (yes, there's a whole chapter on Don Cherry).
  • The Meaning of Sport - Orr shares compelling testimony that the greater purpose of sports is to build personal habits and learn lessons which apply far beyond the confines of the rink or playing field. When it comes to youth sports, far too many parents & coaches are hung up on competitiveness and championships at the expense of the bigger picture.

Hockey fans will adore this book, as it could almost serve as a manual for how a traditional hockey player should think and behave. This humble, team-first attitude is what fans love so much about the game's culture, and while that may translate in today's media environment as being bland or boring compared to pro football or basketball players, most hockey folks wouldn't have it any other way.