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Freeze frame

Orr's magic moment the picture of glory

1970 Stanley Cup Finals -- Bruins vs. St. Louis Blues at Boston Garden: Bobby Orr scores the winning goal to win Stanley Cup.
1970 Stanley Cup Finals -- Bruins vs. St. Louis Blues at Boston Garden: Bobby Orr scores the winning goal to win Stanley Cup. (Globe File Photo / Frank O'Brien)

Editor's note: We are republishing this Dan Shaughnessy May 10, 2000 column today, the 37th anniversary of Bobby Orr's Stanley Cup winning goal.

It happened 30 years ago today. That's the amazing part for Bobby Orr.

He was a 22-year-old hockey prodigy when he flew through the rare air at the old Boston Garden after sliding the puck between the pads of Glenn Hall to deliver Boston's first Stanley Cup in 29 years. It was Sunday, May 10, 1970. Mother's Day.

Three decades later, the moment survives, frozen in time - the single greatest hockey play ever. Along with Carlton Fisk's midnight moonshot off the foul pole and the final day of the 1967 pennant race, it's one of the happiest and most indelible memories of the last half-century of Boston sports. We can talk about Larry Bird, Pedro Martinez, Bill Russell, and the rest, but if you lived here in 1970, you know the context of hockey and Orr during that time. The Bruins were Boston hockey's Beatles and the apostolic Orr had Paul's talent and John's soul.

Orr gets teased about it now. Video of the goal gets more air play than Neil Armstrong's walk on the moon, and casual fans might not know that he accomplished a few other things on ice. When Orr appeared on WBZ-TV with Bird and Ted Williams years ago, Ted asked him, "Is that the only goal you ever scored?"

"It's a good line," laughs Orr. "Glenn Hall says that to me every time he sees me."

Tonight, ESPN Classic airs a commemorative special, and Orr has been buried by requests to talk about The Goal. Bobby Thomson has The Homer, Bob Beamon has The Jump, and Orr has The Goal.

"What the hell can you say new about it?" he says with a chuckle. "The thing that amazes me is that it was 30 years ago. It's gone by so quickly."

Orr won't be around for any celebrations. The Bruins might revisit the moment next fall, but today Orr is flying to San Francisco to fulfill a charity golf commitment for Tony La Russa.

He hasn't forgotten much about the day or the moment. The Bruins led the St. Louis Blues, three games to none, when they played Game 4 at the Garden on a warm Sunday afternoon. It was 3-3 at the end of regulation, and 40 seconds into the first sudden-death overtime, Orr slid a pass to Derek Sanderson behind the net. Sanderson feathered the puck back to Orr as he crossed in front of Hall and Orr one-timed it between Hall's pads to clinch the Cup. Classic give-and-go.

"Derek had a huge hand in the goal," says Orr. "In fact, he professes to have made my career.

"All I was trying to do was get it on goal. As I skated across, Glenn had to move across the crease and had to open his pads a little. When I shot it, I saw it got in, so I jumped. Then Noel Picard helped a little by lifting his stick under my skate."

Picard's chippy move served only to add to the drama and made for the greatest photograph in hockey history. The late Ray Lussier of the late Record-American was one of his paper's three photographers for the big game and arrived at the Garden with no credential and no seat. He found a corner in which to work and made the definitive photo - Orr in the air, mouth open, stick high, skate being lifted by Picard's blade. In the photo, Hall is starting to fall backward and the puck already has bounced off the back of the goal and out in front of the crease.

Today Orr is part-owner of Woolf Associates in Boston and he keeps a stack of Lussier reprints handy for signing purposes. He has signed the photo thousands of times. Perhaps Ted Turner could colorize it for him.

Orr's mother was home in Ontario on Mother's Day 30 years ago.

"She really didn't like to watch me play," he says. "But my dad was there. We were staying at the Colonial in Lynnfield. The whole team. The morning after the game I met my dad for breakfast and that was the first time I saw that picture of me flying through the air.

"It was special. We hadn't won the Cup in all those years. Growing up in Canada, laying in bed at night, that was something I'd dreamed about. There I was, following Chief [John Bucyk] around the ice with him hoisting the Cup over his head. It was cool."

Bobby Orr scored more than one goal for the Bruins. He ranks on anyone's list of the top NHL players of all time and forever will be No. 1 in Boston. Rival Bobby Clarke, commenting on Orr, said, "It wasn't fair that he was made to play with us. There should have been a higher league for him to go to."

But 30 years after the fact, it remains the signature play of Orr's career, and fathers of Bruins Nation still recite the moment the way they recall the birth of their first child.

Childe Bobby is 52. The Goal is 30. Today.

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