Precisely 50 years ago today, Bobby Orr made his National Hockey League debut. Interesting to note that the greatest defenceman of all time actually wore sweater No. 27 through the pre-season, was then offered to start with No. 5, but he chose No. 4 before stepping on the ice on Oct. 19, 1966, against the Detroit Red Wings, and contributing one assist.
To honour the 50th anniversary of his entry to the NHL, we look back at Orr’s most iconic hockey moment….
The moment was immortalized precisely 46 years ago today.
Flashback to May 10, 1970, Boston Garden: The Boston Bruins are leading the St. Louis Blues in the Stanley Cup final three games to nothing and looking for the sweep. The game is knotted at three and the teams are heading into overtime.
A mere 40 seconds into the extra frame, defenceman Bobby Orr works a give-and-go with forward Derek Sanderson and takes the puck to the net.
Orr beats Blues goaltender Glenn Hall just as he's getting tripped by defenceman Noel Picard. Airborne and victorious, the greatest defenceman to play the game flings his arms to the heavens in celebration of his first Stanley Cup victory -- and the home-team Bruins' first in 29 years.
Game 4, period 4, number 4 scoring while being tripped by number 4.
"If it had gone by me, it's a two-on-one. So I got a little lucky there, but Derek gave me a great pass and when I got the pass I was moving across," Orr told author Andrew Podnieks for The Goal: Bobby Orr and the Most Famous Shot in Stanley Cup History.
"As I skated across, Glenn had to move across the crease and had to open his pads a little. I was really trying to get the puck on net, and I did. As I went across, Glenn's legs opened. I looked back, and I saw it go in, so I jumped."
The moment jumps to the top of No. 4's four greatest hockey memories.
“Growing up in Canada, any young kid’s dream is to play in the NHL and be on a Stanley Cup team," Orr told Sportsnet, looking back, "1970 and '72 are certainly highlights, and ’76 the Canada Cup, and being part of the opening ceremonies in Vancouver for the Olympics was unbelievable. So I think those four events.”
That 46-year-old black-and-white image that instantly pops into so many fans' imaginations when they hear the name Orr was shot by veteran Boston photographer Ray Lussier, who has since passed away.
Shooting for the Boston Record-American (a precursor to the Herald), Lussier was granted one of the sweet rinkside photo perches in a corner of the east-end boards. When the Zamboni cleaned the ice to set the stage for OT, however, Lussier changed his position.
He hustled to the west end in order to capture a spot at the Blues end for what would be the Cup-clincher -- and Orr only gave him 40 seconds' grace.
Finding a stool facing a cut-out shooting hole in the glass left vacant by a competing newspaper's photographer -- who, legend has it, bolted during intermission to hit up a beer stand -- Lussier musical-chaired his way to infamy.
By the time the thirsty shooter came back to his stool, the Garden was rocking, the Cup was clinched, and Lussier had what he needed.
His image has since been used as the basis for The Goal statue of an in-flight Orr that now stands outside the TD Garden.
As for Orr, he recalls vividly waking up from his Stanley Cup hangover and seeing the photograph.
“I remember where I was. In those days, we didn’t stay at home; we stayed at a hotel. We were out in Lynfield, Massachusetts, at the Hilton hotel. My father was staying there also," Orr says.
"I went down for breakfast to meet my dad. In those days it was the Record-American, the newspaper. My dad had one and opened it up. I was in the centre page. That was the first time I saw it. I don’t think I was thinking about how high I was; I just thought, ‘Oh, that’s a different picture.’ ”