Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Searching for Bobby Orr

Stephen Brunt, Globe and Mail sports columnist and author, spoke to Peter Brown on CBC’s Radio Active yesterday about his excellent new book, Searching for Bobby Orr. There is almost an entire shelf of Gretzky books at the Library, but only 1 or 2 on Orr. But, frankly, Wayne’s story isn’t really all that interesting. Orr, on the other hand, is a tragic Canadian hero, flying close to the sun (as in the classic photograph following his Stanley Cup-winning goal in 1970). Then brought low by injured knees and betrayed by his friend Alan Eagleson. And unlike Wayne’s ubiquitous smiling presence, Orr post-hockey was a private, angry man, whose sons not only didn’t play hockey, they never even learned to skate. Now there’s a story.

Ian McGillis, the ex-Edmontonian author of the hilarious novel, A Tourist’s Guide to Glengarry, wrote a great review of Brunt’s book in the Edmonton Journal recently:
"Bobby Orr used to make me cry.

Eight years old, sitting with my father watching the Boston Bruins playing on TV against my beloved Maple Leafs (this was before the Oilers, you understand), I was choked with rage and frustration as that shaggy-maned defenceman, with one solitary strip of tape on his stick blade, ragged the puck end-to-end for the duration of a Leafs power play.

"Why do they let him do that?" I would blubber.

"They're not letting him do it," Dad would say. "He does what he wants out there."

Very early, then, Bobby Orr provided a hard lesson: in hockey, as in life, some are simply better than others. Not long after, as his career was cruelly truncated by fragile knees, he provided another lesson, this one harder to absorb: Just as greatness is bestowed randomly, it can be randomly snatched away.

... Searching for Bobby Orr [is] not only one of the best hockey books ever, but a book that transcends hockey."


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