Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What would Bobby Orr do?

Something very sad happened this hockey season in the Fredericton Youth Hockey Association.

This is not what you think but a wonderful little sportsman was lost to us.
Last year this little guy and his brother scored 1 goal each but had the best time they had ever had.
They would leap out of bed on cold early mornings and rush to get onto the ice as soon as they were allowed.
Last year's team won almost every game but that didn't matter to the boys.
They just loved being there.
And we all loved watching them as they had so much fun.
There was a couple of guys who were a little intense sometimes but Coach Chad usually knew how to settle them down to get back to fun.
Overall, it was an amazing year. The team came in 4th overall but everybody became great friends, kids and parents.
And my boys only scored one goal each.

I don't want to say their names on here so I will call my sons T and B.
T is a solid little defenseman. He reminds me a lot of myself from my hockey days except that he is much quicker on skates than I ever was.
B is forward. He switches between left and right wings as well as Center.

The reason I mention Bobby Orr in the title is that he was arguably the best hockey player of all time and one of the most humble.
Over a year ago I found a DVD of Bobby Orr's greatest plays.
The boys and I have watched this so many times the disk will wear out before too long.
We are in total agreement with Don Cherry that Bobby was the best to ever strap on a pair of skates.
He would skate circles around everyone and punch the puck right past the goalie almost every time.
He was the first defenseman in the history of the National Hockey League to win the annual scoring title. Several times.
Other player that shared the ice with him found their statistics rise as well. Bobby made everyone shine. Derek Sanderson and Phil Esposito scored most of their career goals thanks to Bobby's assists.
He cared a great deal for his teammates.
One of the most dramatic videos I have seen is of Keith Magnusson of the Chicago Black Hawks taking a cheap shot at Derek Sanderson when he wasn't watching.
Like a bolt of lightning Bobby shot over and took Magnusson on and handily pounded him.
Whenever he scored a goal Bobby would briefly celebrate with his teammates and then skate away with his eyes down to the ice ready to continue the game. I could never imagine him with the stupid fist pumping and dramatic gloating we see from players today.
He was poetry in motion taking the puck from one end to the other.
Bobby just wanted to play the game and play it well to the best of his abilities.
Ever since I was 7 years old I was number 4 in every sport I played as tribute to Bobby Orr. I still do to this day.
I remember the day Bobby was forced to retire because of his failing knees. It was so sad.
My sons know all about Bobby and his grace and humility. We have talked about this extensively.
T has been number 4 last year and this year. The amazing thing is that their team became the Bruins which was where Bobby played most of his career.

This hockey season something changed dramatically.
It was most likely due to the fact that the boys were second year and now the senior members of the team.
T continued to be the spoiler of breakaways and defender of the blue line. But he was much better than last year.

B found his groove and became a goal scoring machine.
It was amazing to watch. He made it look so easy the way he stepped around the other players.
At the end of the season he was the second highest goal scorer in the Atom C level.

Along with the transformation to scorer something troubling happened.
I mentioned that we lost a great little sportsman. This was B.
Oh yes, we gained an amazing player but the sportsman sadly disappeared.
For the life of me I can't figure out why.
We continued to congratulate and encourage him for every play if he scored or not.
What started to happen is that if B went in to score and missed he would smack his stick on the ice and get so angry.
There were many times that he was so busy fuming that he didn't even see his own rebound and missed perfect scoring chances.
We tried explaining this to him.
It was embarrassing to watch. I had seen other kids doing this but never imagined that one of our guys could become like this. As it turns out, the top scorer in the league was a poor sport too. I'll get to the relevance of that in a moment.
A couple of times I had the coach bench B to show that I was not happy at his behaviour.
Sometimes it actually worked.

The kicker came at the very end of the year when the Allstar team was selected from every team.

B was not picked.
Neither was the top scorer in the division.

T was picked along with 2 other players on the team.
Not because they were the fastest players or were scoring machines but because they were good sports and enjoyed the game.

I was very pleased to see that. This is the way all selections should be done.
I was impressed that B did congratulate T and the others for the game.

I think he'll come around in time for next year. At least I hope he will.

I wish I could speak to Bobby Orr and ask him for advice on this.
What made him the way he was and the amazing sportsman he was?

What would Bobby Orr do if he was in my position?

Stay Well,

Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

1 comment:

Jeannine St. Amand said...

A very moving piece Tim. I have shared the lessons of your story with my son who was first year Atom with the Avalanche (he proudly wore the number 4 too). While we have many lessons to teach these young boys and girls, there are many more they have to learn on their own.

Glad to have found your blog!