BOSTON -- Oh, that No. 4, Bobby Orr. Is there ever an end to his effect on hockey and, in particular, the Boston Bruins.
Just when it seemed nothing could make the 2010 Winter Classic Friday at Fenway Park anymore historic, the greatest defenseman that ever lived emerged from the Bruins dressing room and then the Red Sox dugout and made his way to center ice to shake hands with former Philadelphia Flyers great Bobby Clarke.
And then when the current Bruins emerged from the pyrotechnics lining their path to the rink, there was the player many think was greatest to play the game to pat them on the back and send them into battle.
"For him to lead us out there & when he was (announced), there was a big standing 'O' for a bit and it was pretty special for him to lead us out there," said Bruins center Marc Savard, who despite playing for the same Oshawa Generals junior team as Orr (some 30 years later) had never met the legend.
Despite his lofty status in the Hub and in the Bruins' franchise history, Orr keeps his distance from the club. For him to take the time to join the Bruins for the New Year's Day festivities resonated with the current players. Defenseman Dennis Wideman, who had met Orr before, was still overjoyed. Wideman said that Orr went around the dressing room touching about half of the guys' sticks for good luck.
"I got to stand beside him. I think he thought he was supposed to go off after the national anthem. I told him just to stay. It was unbelievable to be on the ice with him. That was pretty special," said Wideman.
Game-winning-goal scorer Marco Sturm said he didn't get a good-luck tap from Orr but did have a pregame chat with the great. Even a native of Germany knows how important Orr is to the game. There's no question Orr's legacy even reached Slovakia, where Mr. Stoic himself, captain Zdeno Chara, grew up. The giant defenseman got a little goofy when asked about being around Orr, whose mantle Chara now carries as a leader and a Norris Trophy-winning defenseman.
"It was awesome. He walked out with us. Such a legend, such an inspiration for anybody to have with us in the locker room and just chatting with us before the game. It was unbelievable," said Chara.