"It was a coincidence, strictly a coincidence."
Late in the first period of that game Jim Mair of the Islanders caught you on the left knee with a good hip check and flipped you into the air. The old Orr—or the young Orr—would have gone around Mair without any problem, wouldn't he?
"Maybe, maybe not. But I'm glad he hit me. Actually, he lifted me up more than he hit me, but he still caught me squarely on the knee. It was a good test, but I got right up—yes, I was a little mad—and skated back into the play."
Have you found that you can't do certain things on the ice anymore? No one has seen you pirouette yet.
"I still can't pivot the way I'd like, but I'm sure that it will come again when I get in top condition. You don't get into shape until you've played a dozen or 15 real games. Right now I'm doing a lot of stupid things—like holding the puck too long and giving it away too easily—because I'm not in top mental and physical condition yet."
Maybe you'll have to restrict certain movements because of your bad knee?
"You're talking about carrying the puck—or maybe not carrying the puck. I didn't carry the puck very often in Montreal the other night—only once, if I remember correctly—and the people all said that something has to be wrong with Orr. The only thing wrong with me in Montreal was Yvan Cournoyer and Frank Mahovlich and Jacques Lemaire and all those other speedy Canadien forwards. You don't rush the puck very often against Montreal—you'll get burned. I do think I carried the puck well the next night when we beat Buffalo, though. Another thing. I'm a smarter player now—or at least I think I am—than I used to be. I have found out that you can save a lot of energy by being smart on the ice, by passing the puck more. Why crack through two defensemen yourself when you can pass the puck to a teammate, then sneak around behind the defenseman and get a return pass? Also, why go between a guy and the boards when the odds are that you won't make it? I'm just learning those things."
You don't wrap tape around the blade of your stick anymore. Are you trying to start a trend? Or do you own a stick company and want kids to start breaking their sticks by the dozen?
"It's funny. I always thought you had to put tape on your stick. Then I found out you don't. So I don't."
Derek Sanderson, John McKenzie, Gerry Cheevers and Teddy Green are all gone to the WHA now. Has the Gas House Gang spirit gone with them?