Bridging the gap in the hockey card world between the Bobby Orr era and that of Wayne Gretzky is the 1978-79 O-Pee-Chee #300 card commemorating the injury shortened, yet legendary career of the great Boston defenseman. After calling it a career six games into the 1978-79 NHL season, O-Pee-Chee had time to honour Orr in that year’s set.
The front of the special collector’s card shows Bobby as a member of Team Canada, sitting on the bench. The card is simply decorated with a number 4 at the top and his name at the bottom. The picture is from the 1976 Canada Cup (sitting beside Denis Potvin of the New York Islanders). Orr was named to the 1972 Team Canada squad that played against the Soviet Union in the Summit Series but did not play due to injury. The card is valued at $40, which is a relative steal considering it’s significance in hockey history. This is a far cry from the $3000 value of the 1966-67 Topps Bobby Orr rookie card.
Bobby took the role of offensive defenseman to a whole new level upon entering the league. He played 657 NHL regular season games between 1966-67 and 1978-79. In six of those twelve seasons, he contributed over 100 points. He won the Art Ross Trophy twice as the league’s leading point-getter – the only defenseman to ever win the award. Orr’s 139 points in 1970-71 stand today as an NHL record for most points by a blue liner in a single season. He came close to topping that mark in 1974-75, his last full season in the league, with 135 points.
By the 1975-76 season, Orr’s knees were shot. He returned to action with the Bruins at the start of November, 1975 but lasted just ten games. Amazingly, in those ten games he totalled 18 points, a 144 point pace over a full 80 game schedule. Even more amazing was the fact that Phil Esposito was gone from the front of the opposing team’s net, traded to the New York Rangers.
Even the following season, 1976-77, when he came back with the Chicago Black Hawks, Orr was contributing at over a point per game pace but could play only 20 games with his new team before the injuries came back. After a full year off, he tried to come back again with the Black Hawks in 1978-79 but it wasn’t to be.
Of course, Orr has his name on pretty much every major NHL award, including his complete dominance of the Norris Trophy for nearly a decade. The one year that truly stands out is 1969-70 when he became the only quadruple crown winner in NHL history. In doing this, Orr was awarded the Hart Trophy, Norris Tropphy, Art Ross Trophy and Conn Smythe Trophy. As well, his name was engraved on the Stanley Cup that season with the Bruins sweeping the St. Louis Blues in the final series.
Almost immediately after retiring in 1979, the Boston Bruins retired Orr’s jersey number 4. The Hockey Hall of Fame waived the standard three year waiting period and inducted Bobby that same year.