Back of the InterNet Special: Converging Euro-Can-Am hockey, Tom Thompson; Bobby Orr

Posted: 11/12/2010 by bc in Uncategorized

Tom Thompson examines the convergence of European and North American hockey philosophy. It’s well worth reading. Keep in mind Thompson omitted the single most innovative hockey idea to come out of Europe, the five man unit. (((DOH))) Tommy, how can ya miss that?

Well that sent me on the search for a biscuit or two tucked way back in the net.  During an hour-long search through links using the google advanced search feature, key word “hockey” with this exact phrase “five man unit” produced 2070 results. Luckily, I found this gem from TIME Magazine dated December 29, 1975 on page two of the search links.

So you think you want to blog hockey do you? But I digress.

Back in the day when the former Soviet Union, now Russia or Russian Federation, began investing in hockey, basketball and soccer were the main sports. The five man unit in hockey was taken from hoops.

As TIME reported, the Soviets were definitely disappointed that they wouldn’t play against Bobby Orr in that 1975 exhibition series.

Bobby Orr did play against the Soviets in the 1976 Canada Cup tournament. His knee was so bad he could barely walk. Orr was named a 1st team All Star of the 1976 Canada Cup and voted tournament MVP. Darryl Sittler said, “Bobby Orr was better on one leg, than anybody else was on two.”

For those of you who know Bobby Orr best from stories old school old timers like me tell,  I swear I read the following account in a mainstream media report at the time:

Following the Canada – Soviet Union game, four Russian players went over to the Canadian dressing room and knocked on the door.  Stunned to see Russian hockey players at the door a Team Canada official listened as one of the Russians spoke. He asked, “Could we touch Bobby Orr’s jersey? We didn’t get a chance to during the game.”

For me, there’s Bobby Orr and then we can chat about who’s second best. In terms of impact on the game, by that I mean what happens on the ice; Orr not only changed how we see it, he changed how we think it.

Better on one leg than anybody else on two? Bobby Hull once told a Ref, “Let’s play with two pucks. One for him,” motioning his stick at Bobby Orr, “And one for the rest of us.” Harry Sinden was asked if the Bruins ever thought of trying Orr at center, “We did but he was only tremendous.”

Don’t believe me. That’s just what Bobby Hull, Darryl Sittler and Harry Sinden said.

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