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December 14, 2012

Bobby Orr: Not All Hart

I was born in 1974 so I basically have no memory whatsoever of 1970s hockey.

Part of me definitely wishes I was better able to watch hockey from that beloved era - the Soviet invasion, the WHA's emergence, the Broad Street Bullies and the classy Montreal Canadiens. But first and foremost, I wish I had seen Bobby Orr.

Bobby Orr - the greatest player ever to play the game many still tell me. Better than Gretzky. It's not even close, these experts insist.

Take the 1974-75 season for example. Bobby Orr leads the league in scoring for the second time of his career. He remains the only defenseman in history to win the Art Ross trophy. Leave no room for doubt - his career 2nd-best 135 points that season is a completely mindboggling accomplishment.

Just one question - why did he finish a distant 3rd in Hart Trophy voting that year as league MVP? He was quite arguably the most dominant player that season.

Bobby Clarke, with his Flyers team the class of the regular season, won it that year, with 127 voting points. Rogie Vachon backstopped the surprising LA Kings and was right behind him with 113. Orr finished well behind the balloting at 73.

It was a different time back then, and I guess it shows the evolution of hockey's Hart Trophy and Most Valuable Player status. It used to be given to the player deemed to be most valuable to his own team. Now it often goes to the player deemed to have had the best season in the entire league..

Bobby Orr won three consecutive Hart Trophies from 1970 through 1972. Orr not winning the MVP in 1975 still baffles me. In fact, I'm not sure how he didn't win the Hart Trophy in 1973 or 1974, either.


RonNasty said...

I saw him at Maple Leaf Gardens when he was with the Black Hawks. That doesn't get mentioned much. I wonder if todays medical knowledge would have save his knees.

highlandcross said...

Simply, the voters had Orr fatigue....

If one considers the fact that up until that time (post Norris), no defenseman ever sniffed the Hart trophy, never mind win it...which only Orr as done on multiple occasions, then it becomes a bit more understandable.

Only one other defenseman has ever won the Hart (C Pronger) - so it seems they now relegate defenseman to strictly the Norris.

By rights, he should have won it every healthy year he was on the ice...

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