Imagine being Bobby Orr. If you are going to a Bruins game at the Garden and need to arrange to meet a friend outside the arena, you could say something like . . .
“Want to meet me at the statue of me at 7 o’clock?’’
How many people get to do that?
Orr never would, of course. He’s too humble. He is a proverbial regular guy who just happens to be the greatest hockey player who ever lived. If it makes you feel any better, you should know that even the great Bobby Orr was unable to stay awake for the third overtime of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final last week in Chicago.
“I was in Vancouver, which was great because the game started at 5 in the afternoon out there,’’ said Orr, who attended Game 3 at TD Garden Monday night. “I stayed up for the first and second overtimes, but then I fell asleep and got up in the middle of the night and checked the sports channel, and the Hawks had gotten that overtime goal.
“I tried. I’m an old man now. We’ve got to get our sleep.”
Orr, now 65, is a player agent and represents players from both teams (Patrick Sharp of the Blackhawks, and Nathan Horton and Adam McQuaid of the Bruins). He played 26 games for the Blackhawks at the end of his career, lived in Northbrook, Ill., with his family for four years, and still has a Blackhawks No. 4 sweater in a closet at home.
But make no mistake. Orr is rooting for the Bruins.
“I’m a Bruin,’’ he said. “I’m sure Patrick will understand.
“I think these two teams are so evenly matched. The great thing with the Bruins is that they not only have great offensive players, they have tough players. And when I say ‘tough,’ I’m not talking about fighting.
“If they have to fight, they will, but I’m talking about body contact and skating to the dirty places. That’s what the Bruins are. Anything this team does doesn’t surprise me.
“This team has really played well. You look back at the Toronto series. Toronto really played pretty well, by the way. Let’s not put everything on the Bruins playing poorly. The Leafs played pretty well, so let’s give them credit.
“Coming into that series, I was concerned for the Bruins. But then they got better against New York and then Pittsburgh. Those first two games against Pittsburgh, they dominated them. The start of that first game — that was domination. My gosh. The Pittsburgh Penguins scored two goals in four games! Are you kidding? That’s playing.
“Now Chicago. The Blackhawks came back when they were down, 3-1, in that first game. There’s a lot of character in both teams. I think they’re really evenly matched in whatever part of the game you look at.
“It’s going to be a long series. I think both teams will win on the road before the series is over. Chicago is a good team. We’ve got a lot of hockey to play yet.’’
Like the rest of New England, Orr is inspired by this Bruins team.
“Claude [Julien] has done a great job with this team. And just look at what Gregory Campbell did, breaking his leg and continuing to play. That’s what these Bruins are. A lot of character. Nothing surprises me with this team. It really doesn’t.’’
He’s too smart to make comparisons between this group and the Big Bad Bruins he skated for in the 1970s. The Orr-Derek Sanderson-Phil Esposito-Johnny McKenzie-Gerry Cheevers Bruins are as popular as any athletic club in the history of our city.
“I don’t do that,’’ said Orr. “Fans and media can do that, but not me. That’s for the birds.
“It’s like when you try to compare players to players of other eras. It’s not fair and it’s not correct. This team is a very good team, and the character they’ve shown is wonderful.’’
Orr signed a three-year, $5 million contract to play for the Blackhawks in 1976 when his corrupt agent, Alan Eagleson, did not tell him that the Bruins were offering him a share of the franchise. Knee woes ended Orr’s career prematurely in 1978. He scored six goals in a Chicago uniform.
While the ice time in Chicago was painful, he is a fan of the city and its hockey population.
“My memory is that I was not able to play more or play better,’’ he said. “That was a disappointing time for me, not to be able to contribute more or be part of that team.
“The disappointment was huge. It’s a great hockey city and sports town. When you go somewhere, you want to contribute, and I just couldn’t.’’
The Orr family moved back to Boston after his career ended.
“This was the place we loved,’’ he said.
He sees the Bruins as a local morale booster in the aftermath of the Marathon bombings.
“There is no question this team has been a lift,’’ said Orr. “The character and the strength they’ve shown. All they have done to support us after a terrible thing is just outstanding.
“When you get a group like this and they’re playing like this, I think it’s wonderful for the community. Absolutely.’’
Orr said he plans on returning to the Garden for Game 4 Wednesday night. I wanted to ask him if he’d meet me outside the arena at 7 at the Bobby Orr statue, but I knew he’d never do it. True gods don’t need reminders of their greatness.
Dan Shaughnessy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.