( Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated Vault )

By: JD Young | Follow me on Twitter: @JD9899

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope you’ve all had a great holiday so far. I want to put the spotlight on some Bruins history that occurred today. On this day, 45 years ago, Bruins legend Bobby Orr suited up to play against the New York Rangers. The game was business as usual: Bruins won 6-4, and Orr notches a goal and an assist. But little did anyone know, this would be the final time that Orr would suit up for the black and gold.

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

If you’re a Bruins fan, you probably need no introduction as to who Bobby Orr is. The prolific defenseman is one of the best players in Bruins history, if not THE best. A true Hockey legend, Orr embodied the identity that Boston sports represented. Fans who were able to see him in person talk about Orr like he was some kind of mythical creature on the ice. The iconic statue outside of TD Garden only further supports that claim.

Orr’s diving pose after he made “The Shot” has been forever immortalized by that beautiful chunk of bronze that sits on Causeway Street. It is etched into history as a moment that still, to this day, feels like something out of a fictional movie. That statue’s pose encapsulates what made Bobby Orr so special: He was fearless, and at any moment, he could do something that took your breath away.

On that topic, let’s dive a little deeper into “The Shot” and the years that proceeded that legendary moment. “The Shot” is easily one of the best moments in the 100+ years of hockey history. I’ll set the scene for the few who aren’t familiar with the moment. It’s game four of the 1970 Stanley Cup Finals. The Bruins are up 3-0 in a series against the St. Louis Blues. They are looking to net an overtime goal to seal the team’s first championship since 1941. I’ll let Bruins play-by-play legend Fred Cusick take it from here and remind you what happened:

This moment kickstarted one of the best decades in Bruins history. The 1970s Bruins ended up making five Stanley Cup Finals and notched two Championships in that timespan. The first half of the decade was dominated by Orr and fellow Bruins Legend Phil Esposito. The two carried and propelled the team to glory, culminating in two cup victories that were savored by Bostonians for years to come. Orr was the catalyst of the team’s success and became the heart and soul of the gritty “Big Bad Bruins.” Unfortunately, the best things are never meant to last forever.

Bobby Orr’s career was cut shorter than anyone expected. For the entirety of his playing days, Orr had a long list of knee problems. It didn’t Bobby from putting up six straight 100-point seasons, as well as two Conn Smythe awards, but eventually, the wear-and-tear caught up with him. Sometimes there is a price to pay if you want to be the best, and Orr had to sacrifice longevity in order to be the player he became. In the end, Orr played ten illustrious seasons with the Bruins. He spent some time with the Blackhawks after that, but he was a shell of his former self. At the young age of 30, he retired and subsequently became one of the biggest “what-ifs” in NHL history. Orr’s short-lived career should be something we give thanks to today, 45 years later. He is a major reason the NHL is what it is today.

I’ll leave with a quote from NHL Legend Bobby Clarke. When asked about Orr one time, he said this about him: “He’s what all Hockey players should be like, on and off the ice.”. There’s never been a truer statement.