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SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR: BOBBY ORR
Jack Olsen
December 21, 1970
Only 22, he set entire new standards of hockey excellence. While leading his team to a championship and emerging as an alltime star, he ushered a growing sport into the '70s with a flash of flying ice
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December 21, 1970

Sportsman Of The Year: Bobby Orr

Only 22, he set entire new standards of hockey excellence. While leading his team to a championship and emerging as an alltime star, he ushered a growing sport into the '70s with a flash of flying ice

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"It's very nice of people to say that I have a special role," says Bobby Orr, "but all I can do about it is go out there and play the very best I can. I can't let it bug me. We have 18 guys and they all play to win. The Bruins, they're team guys."

On this night the Bruins have lost at home for the first time in 29 consecutive games at the Garden, and everyone dresses quietly. A few players grumble about the clutch-and-grab hockey played by the opponents. Bobby Orr says almost nothing. He has been snakebit all evening. He hit the post on two successive rushes and the second enemy goal—the one that salted away the 2-0 game—shot over Orr's stick and into an empty net; an utterly excusable event, but one that bothers him nonetheless. "Come on," he says grumpily, "let's get out of here."

Outside the dressing room the usual crowd waits. Orr signs a few autographs and bends over Deanna Deleidi's wheelchair to kiss her on the cheek. "How's your love life?" she says.

"I'm waiting for you," Orr says.

"Watch out," the young woman says. "I'll jump right out of this chair!" Orr backs away in mock horror.

"Isn't she something?" he says on the way to the parking lot. "You start out feeling sorry for her, but you get over that fast. The little bugger—she doesn't feel sorry for herself, so why should you?"

Orr fumbles a long time for the car keys. He burns rubber driving the Eldorado out of its private parking space and distractedly cuts off another car when he reaches the street. A truck, in turn, cuts him off, and Orr stands on the brakes and curses. "Two tie, all tie, you bleep!" he says. A few seconds later he crosses the yellow double line. He takes the West Boston Bridge over the Charles River, guns the long blue car the wrong way up a one-way street and swerves sharply into the parking lot of a hotel. "Come on," he says. "I got a quiet bar up here."

The entertainment at the "quiet bar" turns out to be nine earsplitting mariachis, three of them on brass, and by the time Alan Eagleson and another lawyer and Orr's petite young late date arrive the conversation has unavoidably become loud. A frowning maître d'hôtel comes over and beckons Orr and his friends to speak more softly, and Orr says, "You listen to me! Don't you ever come over to my table and tell me and my friends to be quiet!"

"What the hell," Orr says when the cowed maître d' leaves, "let's have another round and forget our worries." He orders beer for himself and drinks for the others. After a suitable interval one of the members of the party says softly, "You don't like to lose, do you, Bob?"

Orr looks at him quizzically. "Docs anybody?" he says. But he relaxes the look. "No," he says, "nobody on our club likes to lose. Nobody in sports likes to lose. But sometimes you have to. Sometimes it's good for the team." He laughs. "Anyway, that's what I keep telling myself." He orders another round.

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