Over 30 years after he left hockey, Bobby Orr finally tells his story. If you know anything about the man, it was no surprise that he refrained from writing about himself for so long: he is the polar opposite of today's arrogant, self-promoting athlete eager to tell the world how great he is (or thinks he is); a humble, classy guy if there ever was one. And though he has now relented - after DECADES of self-imposed obscurity and silence - to write this book, don't expect any salacious stories of the Big Bad Bruins off the ice or passages about Orr's great feats on the ice: this is a straight-forward account of Robert Gordon Orr's life, as written by himself, with his usual modesty and discretion.
Not that this makes for a boring, just-the-facts, life story: it is, in fact, an engaging and fluid read, and interesting as hell. Well, to ME this is incredibly interesting stuff; whether or not you are a hockey fan, a Bruins fan, and/or a Bobby Orr fan will obviously impact your level of interest. As a lifelong hockey/Bruins/Orr fan who was 9 when Orr scored the 1970 overtime goal and who lived in a seaside town in Boston Harbor where several Bruins players lived (Doug Roberts lived a few houses away from me and I met many of the Bruins - but NOT Orr), I obviously have a higher level of interest. But the book is, in fact, lively and entertaining throughout, even for the casual reader. To a fan, it is so much more: because Orr never talked or wrote about himself previously (his two books in the 1970s were about hockey, the game, not about him), we had only a vague notion of his history. An entire 309-page book about Bobby Orr's life? Thank you, God.
From his childhood in Parry Sound, Ontario, where he delighted in the game of hockey at age 5 onwards, to his incredible teen years in Juniors (he signed his first pro hockey contract at age 14 and the contract stipulated - believe it or not - that his parents' house be stuccoed), to his debut in Boston at the age of 18 (as the highest-paid player in NHL history before he played even one NHL game), through the glory years, the bad knees, and then life after hockey (he was only 30 when it all ended), there are stories that even an Orr fan will be surprised by.
Though this is a mostly upbeat life story, there was darkness, aside from the bad knees and early end of his career: his agent since his youth, Alan Eagleson, not only stole a great deal of money from Orr but also stole Orr's Boston legacy as well. Every true Bruins and Bobby Orr fan remembers the dark day in 1976 when Orr - the very heart of the Bruins - signed with Chicago because he felt Boston was insulting him with their low offer. What no one knew - including Bobby Orr himself - was that the Bruins wanted so desperately to keep him that they offered partial ownership of the franchise in addition to their money offer. Eagleson hid this fact from Orr. But for the sleaziness of Alan Eagleson, Bobby Orr would have been a Bruin to the end.
I highly recommend the book to fans and the casual reader alike: this is a sports legend - considered by many as the greatest hockey player of all time - who is a genuinely nice guy, humble and modest, and his life story should be required reading for all young phenoms on the verge of turning pro. Act like THIS guy, not like all the others.
As a book dealer and Top 500 Reviewer, I am offered advance copies on a daily basis and hardly ever accept them. I read what I want to read. However, in this case, I desperately sought out an advance copy and got one. The review would be exactly the same had I paid for a copy.