Is Bobby Orr the Greatest Hockey Player of All Time?

Djcz, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There is a never-ending debate among hockey fans as to which player of Gretzky, Lemieux and Orr was the greatest.  There are certain areas where each stands supreme.

Our vote is for Orr because we think he played the more difficult and more important position and because he revolutionized the position as well. (Also, the skating.) But at least one of us thinks there’s room for debate.

Listen to us talk about Bobby Orr:

Hall of Fame Class of 1979: Bobby Orr, Harry Howell, Henri Richard

Bobby Orr’s Career

  • NHL: 1966-79; 12 seasons, 9 quality
  • Totals:
    • 270G (7th D All Time, 1st at his retirement – Orr was ahead by over 100 goals), 
    • 645A (13th D All Time, 1st at his retirement – ahead by nearly 200 assists) for 
    • 915P (11th D All Time, 1st at his retirement – ahead by 299 points), 
    • +582 (2nd All Time – Robinson – 1st All Time at his retirement, ahead by nearly 100) in 
    • 657 games; 
    • 152 PS (3rd All Time – Howe, Esposito – 1st D, at his retirement);
    • Orr is the 9th D All Time in Offensive Point Shares (11th skater All Time at his retirement, 1st D – ahead of Kelly by over 13, ahead of Clapper by over 23, ahead of Park by nearly 40)
    • At his retirement, Orr was 14th All Time in Defensive Point Shares 
  • Per Game: Orr is
    • 3rd All Time in APG – Gretzky, Lemieux (1st D by .17)
    • 5th All Time in PPG – Gretzky, Lemieux, Bossy, McDavid (1st D by .3)
    • Among D Orr, is 
      • 1st All Time in GPG (by .12)
  • Era: Of the 78 skaters to play in at least 656 games (8 modern seasons) between 1966 and 1979, Orr is
    • T-17th in Goals (1st D by over 100)
    • T-8th in GPG (only D to qualify for leaderboard)
    • 2nd in Assists (1st D by roughly 180)
    • 1st in APG (by .22)
    • 4th in Points (1st D by almost 300)
    • T-1st in PPG
    • 1st in Plus/Minus (by nearly 100)
    • 2nd in OPS (1st D by nearly double)
    • 2nd in DPS
    • 1st in Point Shares
  • 82-game average: 34G, 80A for 114P, +75
  • 3-year peak (1969-72): 82-game average of 38G, 96A for 134P, +123; 22.2 PS
  • Playoffs: 
    • 26G (2nd/3rd D All Time at his retirement – Kelly, Park), 
    • 66A (11th All Time, 1st D, at his retirement) for 
    • 92P (t-18th All Time, t-1st D, at his retirement)
    • +60 (3rd All Time at his retirement – Robinson, Savard) in 
    • 74 games
    • Per Game:
      • 3rd All Time in playoff APG (Gretzky, Lemieux – 1st D by .16)
      • 13th All Time in playoff PPG (1st D by .22)
      • Among D, Orr is
        • 1st All Time in playoff GPG (by .05)
    • Era: Of the 154 skaters to play in at least 41 playoff games between 1966 and 1979, Orr is
      • T-26th in playoff Goals (2nd D)
      • T-24th in playoff GPG (2nd D)
      • T-4th in playoff Assists (2nd D)
      • 1st in playoff APG (by .19)
      • 6th in playoff Points (t-1st D)
      • 2nd in playoff PPG (1st D by .26)
      • 3rd in playoff Plus/Minus
      • T-54th in playoff Games
  • Adjusted:
    • Hockey-Reference:
      • 255G, 
      • 623A for 
      • 878P
      • Adjusted 82-game average: 32G, 78A for 110P (-4P per 82 games)
      • Per Game: Orr is
        • 5th All Time in Adjusted APG (Gretzky, Cowley, Lemieux, Forsberg)
        • 8th All Time in Adjusted PPG
        • Among D, Orr is
          • 1st All Time in Adjusted GPG (by .14)
          • 1st All Time in Adjusted APG (by .23)
          • 1st All Time in Adjusted PPG (by .4)
    • VsX:
      • Goals: doesn’t qualify
      • 783A
      • 940P
      • Per Game:
        • 8th All Time in VsX Adjusted APG
        • T-18th All Time in VsX Adjusted PPG
  • Never traded.

Bobby Orr’s Accomplishments:

  • Hart (’70, ’71, ’72) – 1 of only 4 players ever (Gretzky, Howe, Shore)
  • Conn Smythe (‘70, ‘72) – 1 of only 6 players ever (only D)
  • Ted Lindsay (’75)
  • Norris (’68, ’69, ’70, ’71, ’72, ’73, ’74, ’75) – most all time
  • Top 5 in Hart voting a further five times (’68, ’69, ’73, ’74, ’75),
  • Top 5 in Norris voting one other time (’67)
  • Calder (’67)
  • Back Check MVP (’69, ’70, ’71, ’72, ’74, ’75)
  • Back Check Best Player (’69, ’70, ’71, ’72, ’73, ’74, ’75)
  • Art Ross (’70, ’75 – still the only defenceman to win the scoring title)
  • All Star:
    • 1st Team All Star eight times (4th most by a D – Bourque, Lidstrom, Harvey)
    • 2nd Team once (4th most total by a D, Bourque, Lidstrom, Harvey)
  • Top Player:
    • Set the single-season record for Point Shares in 1969-70, broke his own record in 1970-71 and holds it to this day
    • Best Player (by PS) five times (’70, ’71, ’72, ’73, ’75) – 
    • Top 5 seven times (’69, ‘74)
    • Set the single-season record for DPS in 1970-71 (which he held until 1976-77)
    • Best Defensive Player (by DPS) four times (’71, ’72, ’74, ’75), 
    • Top 5 six times (’69, ’70), 
    • Top 10 seven times (’73)
    • Best Offensive Player (by OPS) twice (’70, ’75 – still the only D to lead the league in OPS)
    • Top 5 six times (’71, ’72, ’73, ’74)
  • Goals:
    • Leader-boards:
      • Top 10 in Goals three times (1 of only 2 D ever – Cameron)
    • GPG leader-boards:
      • Top 10 in GPG twice (1 of only 2 D ever – Cameron)
    • Single-season totals:
      • Set the single-season record for goals by a defenseman (beat the record by eight goals, broke his own record the next year and set a new record in 1974-75 that stood for a decade)
      • 45 goals once (1 of only 2 D ever, only D ever at his retirement)
      • 35 goals three times (1 of only 2 D ever, only D ever at his retirement)
      • 30 goals five times (only D ever)
      • 25 goals six times (1 of only 2 D ever, only D ever at his retirement) 
      • 20 goals seven times (1 of only 6 D ever, only D ever at his retirement)
  • Assists:
    • Leader-boards:
      • Led the league in Assists five times (2nd most ever – Gretzky, only player ever at his retirement)
      • Top 5 six times
    • APG leader-boards:
      • Lead the league in APG six times (t-2nd most ever – Gretzky, only player ever at his retirement)
      • Top five seven times
    • Single-season totals:
      • Set the single-season record for assists (broke the previous record by 10 and the D record by 37), broke his own record (by 15), held the record for 10 seasons
      • 100 assists once (1 of only 3 players ever – Gretzky, Lemieux – only player ever at his retirement)
      • 90 assists twice (1 of only 5 players ever – Gretzky, Lemieux, Thornton, Oates – only player ever at his retirement)
      • 80 assists five times (1 of only 3 players ever – Gretzky, Lemieux – only player ever at his retirement)
      • 70 assists six times (1 of only 4 players ever – Gretzky, Lemieux, Coffey – only player ever at his retirement)
      • 40 assists seven times (1 of only 22 D ever, 1 of only 18 skaters ever at his retirement and 1 of only 2 D – Park)
  • Points:
    • Leader-boards:
      • Led the league in Points twice (t-10th most all time, only D ever)
      • Top 5 six times (only D ever)
    • PPG leader-boards:
      • Led the league in PPG once (only D ever)
      • Top 5 six times (only D ever)
    • Single-season totals:
      • Set the single-season record for points by a defenceman, broke his own record (by nearly doubling it), set the all time single-season record for points by a defenceman (breaking his own record by 19)
      • 130 points twice (1 of only 8 players ever, only D, 1 of only 3 players ever at his retirement, – Esposito, Lafleur)
      • 120 points four times (1 of only 7 players ever, only D, 1 of only 3 players ever at his retirement – Esposito, Lafleur) 
      • 110 points five times (1 of only 8 players ever, only D, 1 of only 3 players ever at his retirement – Esposito, Lafleur)
      • 100 points six times (1 of only 15 players ever, only D, 1 of only 2 players ever at his retirement – Esposito)
      • 60 points seven times (1 of only 24 players ever at his retirement, only D)
  • Plus/Minus:
    • Leader-boards:
      • Led the league in Plus/Minus six times (most all time)
      • Top 5 eight times (most all time)
      • Orr also has the 3rd most Top 10 Plus/Minus finishes ever (Bourque, Gretzky)
    • Single-season:
      • Set the single-season record for Plus/Minus (more than doubling the previous record, which he had tied the previous season), never broken
  • VsX Peak:
    • Best 7 Seasons:
      • Goals: 161st All Time
      • Assists: 2nd All Time (Gretzky)
      • Points: 5th All Time (Gretzky, Esposito, Howe, Lemieux)
    • Best 10 Seasons:
      • Goals: 213th All Time
      • Assists: 8th All Time
      • Points: 16th All Time

Bobby Orr’s Great Teams

  • NHL:
    • MVP (led the playoffs in assists and points) on one Champion (’72 Bruins),
    • MVP (led playoffs in plus/minus) on one Champion (’70 Bruins)
    • Best Player (led playoffs in assists) on one Runner Up (’74 Bruins),
    • Top 2 D (by points) on one Final Four (’69 Bruins)
  • World Cup:
    • MVP (co-led tournament in points) on one Canada Cup Champion (’76 Canada)
  • Summit Series:
    • Injured on one Champion (‘72 Canada)

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