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Promoting his new book, Bobby Orr says, “Imagine me playing in a system.”

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By Allan Muir

It’s not that Bobby Orr has been a recluse since he retired from hockey back in 1978. He’s been active as a player agent and has happily attached his image to brands including Bay Bank, MasterCard, Reebok and Chevrolet.

But Orr’s never been really comfortable talking about himself or what he accomplished during his short but spectacular 10-year career. And if not for Stephen Brunt’s excellent, but unauthorized, 2006 biography, Searching for Bobby Orr, he might have been perfectly content keeping his thoughts to himself for the rest of his life.

But Brunt’s work clearly stirred up a desire in Orr to tell his story his own way. And so now, after spending a couple of years putting his thoughts together, he is strangely, wonderfully everywhere as he makes the rounds to promote his book, Orr: My Story, which is out today. An excerpt will appear on SI.com on Wednesday.

Last night, the real Great One sat down with the CBC’s Peter Mansbridge to talk about his style (“I never heard of a system growing up. Imagine me playing in a system.”), his pain (he estimates he underwent “19 or 20″ surgical procedures on his knees) and, of course, The Goal.

It’s great stuff. Well worth a watch.


  • Published On Oct 15, 2013
  • My all time top 10 NHL power plays

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    Jari Kurri, Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier

    Where would you rank a power play that could unleash Hall of Famers Jari Kurri, Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier? (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    Yesterday, as part of SI.com’s Power Week, I ranked my top 10 NHL power forwards of all time. Today, it’s on to the power play.

    I’ve always thought that the effectiveness of a power play is directly proportional to the fear it inspires.

    The best  don’t simply score goals every third chance or so. They’re a looming specter that buys time and space during 40-odd minutes of even strength play — a constant, overhanging threat that forces defenders to hesitate, to keep sticks and elbows to themselves in order to not take the trip to the box that their coach specifically warned them to avoid.
    It’s been a few years since the NHL has seen a truly frightening power play, but there have been some holy terrors in the past.

    Click here for my 10 greatest in league history:


  • Published On Mar 07, 2013
  • Hockey’s the most photogenic of sports

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    Brett Hull’s controversial Stanley Cup-winning “foot in the crease” goal from 1999 is surely one of hockey’s most memorable photos. (Elsa Hasch/Allsport/Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    There’s not much coming out of New York on the CBA negotiations — and perhaps no news is good news (except when it’s not). So let’s go elsewhere for today’s post. On Tuesday, Sports Illustrated rolled out its Top 100 sports photos of all time on SI.com, images that have appeared in the magazine and elsewhere, culled from thousands that the editors considered. It’s a fantastic gallery that you should view. Some are iconic and well-known, others not as much, but all are excellent examples of sports photography, if not breathtaking then at least historically momentous.

    Of the 100, five were hockey photos. They included Bobby Orr’s Stanley Cup-winning goal against the Blues in 1970 at Number 80; the 1980 Miracle on Ice U.S. Olympic team’s victorious moment against the Soviet national team at Lake Placid at Number 78 (an SI cover that, as I recall, is one of the few that had no words on it beside the magazine name); Wayne Gretzky waving goodbye to fans after his final game at Madison Square Garden in 1999 at Number 74; and Canadiens goalie Jacques Plante crouching to find the puck in a 1957 game against the Rangers, another SI cover shot, at Number 60. Gretzky scoring his 802nd career goal against the Canucks in 1994, making him the top professional goal scorer of all time, was the highest rated hockey photo at Number 14.

    One of the points of a list like this is to spark discussion and debate, and I’ll gladly comply.

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  • Published On Nov 07, 2012
  • Was Lidstrom the MVP of his era?

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    By Stu Hackel

    Of the many things that Nick Lidstrom said Thursday morning while announcing the end of his remarkable playing career (video), it was perhaps the last one in his prepared remarks that spoke the loudest: “Retiring today,” he said, “allows me to walk away from the game with pride rather than have the game walk away from me.”

    This is a player who for much of last season was considered the best defenseman in the NHL, and if he returned next season, he’d still be one of the best players. But after being slowed by injuries and unable to raise his level of play in this year’s postseason, Lidstrom has his own standard of excellence to uphold. He knows he’s lost the inner drive to train as hard as he must this offseason in order to bounce back and reach that level of greatness again. He won’t cheat himself, he won’t cheat his teammates and he won’t cheat the fans if he can’t play with the same determined excellence that made him, without question, the best defenseman of his era.

    That’s not just me making that evaluation of Lidstrom’s talent and legacy, that’s the opinion of Scotty Bowman.

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  • Published On May 31, 2012
  • Ailing Beliveau one of a kind

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    Big and tall, yet a graceful skater, the legendary Jean Beliveau was the personification of a classy player. (Denis Brodeur/Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    In this darkest of seasons for Canadiens fans, the bad news continues to pile up. Their loss to Tampa Bay on Tuesday night dropped them three points behind the Islanders and Hurricanes for last place in the East. They were unable to peddle anyone other than the disappointing Andrei Kostitsyn on Monday’s trade deadline day, prompting The Montreal Gazette’s Red Fisher to write, “Once, teams would line up looking for help from this franchise. The view was that if a player was good enough to wear the CH, he surely had something to offer. Now, the franchise is in disarray from the top down. Now, it’s an embarrassment unworthy of attention. Where has the talent gone? Where has the pride gone?”

    And then the news came that Jean Beliveau, the man who personifies talent and pride — not just for the Canadiens, but all of hockey — had suffered a stroke, the latest of his many health setbacks. The living symbol of everything this franchise has wanted to stand for — excellence, achievement, dignity, class, respect — had been laid so low that Fisher concluded his Wednesday Gazette article on Beliveau with the three words he often reserves for those whose health is at grave risk: “Pray for him.”

    Those of you born well after Beliveau’s playing career ended in 1971 may well wonder, “Who is this man I’m asked to pray for?” and it’s a legitimate question.

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  • Published On Feb 29, 2012
  • Two Minutes for Booking: The Devil and Bobby Hull

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    Courtesy of Wiley & Sons

    By Stu Hackel

    If hockey ever produced a cautionary tale, it’s the life of Bobby Hull. That tale, and not merely recounting Hull’s on-ice exploits, is the approach taken by award-winning Toronto author Gare Joyce in his excellent new book, The Devil and Bobby Hull (John Wiley & Sons, 274 pages).

    Hull was hockey’s biggest attraction in the waning days of the Original Six era, more charismatic than the laconic Gordie Howe, flashier than the decorous Jean Beliveau. In his day, he was King of the Ice ( to borrow the honorific crown conjured up by the late Paul Quarrington in his great 1988 hockey novel, King Leary). Hull’s reign was wedged between those of Rocket Richard and Bobby Orr, although he was hardly in decline during Orr’s peak. He was not only the NHL’s top goal scorer — the first NHLer to break the 50-goal barrier in a season — but also it’s most explosive, visible and marketable player.

    Five times a Sports Illustrated cover subject — unprecedented for an NHL player of that time – Hull’s stardom transcended the game, and through his numerous endorsements, which doubled his Black Hawks salary, Gare establishes that he became the first hockey figure to gain continent-wide recognition and was the impetus for the league’s first great expansion in 1967.

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  • Published On Nov 18, 2011
  • Cup video captures Bruins’ determination

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    Though it contains some glaring omissions, the “Boston Bruins Stanley Cup 2011 Champions” video is will please devoted fans with its account of the team’s historic run to the title. (Robert Beck/Sports Illustrated)

    By Stu Hackel

    The ice has melted, the scruffy beards are gone and now, in the radiating heat of mid-July — one month after the Bruins won the Stanley Cup — the official NHL highlights video gets its premier in Boston on Monday and in New York on Tuesday. It’s a good, not great video, unless you’re a Bruins fan in which case you will forgive its shortcomings — including omitting some of the B’s more rugged play — due to the happy ending and the inside look at your heroes. For Bruins fans everywhere, this will be a must-have addition to their hockey collection.
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  • Published On Jul 18, 2011
  • What to watch for in Cup final Game 7

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    A matter of mind: Keep an eye on goaltender Roberto Luongo and how he and the Canucks react if the Bruins score a goal, especially if they light the lamp early in the game. (Kathleen Hinkel/Icon SMI)

    By Stu Hackel

    It’s Game 7 tonight, one last contest for the silver bowl named for Fredrick Arthur Stanley, Lord Stanley of Preston, the 16th Earl of Derby KG, GCB, GCVO, PC. Yes, that was his official title when, as Governor-General of Canada, he donated the trophy as a challenge cup for the country’s top amateur hockey team in 1882. The Stanley Cup is now the most famous and storied trophy competed for by professional athletes in North America. Players on both the Bruins and Canucks, regardless of their country of origin, have played their entire lives for a chance to have their name engraved on it.

    That includes Tim Thomas, the Bruins goaltender from the hard-bitten industrial town of Flint, Michigan, who has distinguished himself above all others this spring. “When we’re in the garage or driveway playing as a kid and you’re fantasizing,” Thomas said on Tuesday, “well, I was Stevie Yzerman, which doesn’t make sense for a goalie, but you’re saying to yourself, Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals, you’re not saying Game 6, you know? So this is really, you know, what every kid dreams about.”

    Dreams are important and no one achieves greatness without them. But it will be transforming those dreams into desire and then execution that will likely carry the evening in Vancouver. The team that plays better and tries harder should be the one that skates with the Cup. Of course, as we’ve seen all spring, anything can happen in the Stanley Cup playoffs, and we fully expect one final bizarre chapter will be written in the story of this year’s very bizarre tournament.
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  • Published On Jun 15, 2011
  • Canadiens and Bruins renew ancient clash

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    Contrasting styles, cultures, genuine enmity and high stakes are on tap as these Original Six rivals meet in the playoffs for the 33rd time in their storied histories. (Photo by Michael Ivins-US PRESSWIRE)

    By Stu Hackel

    There is probably no more bitter rivalry in North American professional sports than the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins, whose 85-year antagonism returned to full-scale, blood-boiling warfare this season.

    The puck drops tonight on the final chapter of this season’s hostilities, the 33rd meeting of these Original Six teams in the Stanley Cup playoffs, and if it’s anything like the six games the teams played during the regular season, this best-of-seven will overflow with great goaltending, good hard hockey, the classic battle of speed and skill vs. size and strength, and, very likely, a few little dust-ups, unkind words and even some blue oaths.
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  • Published On Apr 14, 2011
  • Gretzky at 50: A look back at one of a kind

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    By Stu Hackel

    Wayne Gretzky, who many believe was the greatest hockey player ever, and unquestionably the greatest offensive player of all time, turns 50 years old today (Jan. 26) and to hockey fans of a certain age, it doesn’t seem very long ago that he was just a teenager — “The Kid,” as he was called then — playing for the Edmonton Oilers.

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  • Published On Jan 26, 2011


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