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This Week In Bruins History: Bruins Retire Number 4

Boston Bruins retire Bobby Orr's number 4 on January 9, 1979.
Boston Bruins retire Bobby Orr's number 4 on January 9, 1979.

On January 9, 1979 the Boston Bruins showed their appreciation for Bobby Orr's services the best way they could by raising his number to the rafters. There were only six players to wear the number 4 before the number was Orr's, Bob Armstrong, Stephen Kraftcheck, Albert Langlois, Bob McCord, Max Quackenbush and Pat Stapleton. May 6, 1976 would prove to be the last game the number 4 would suit up on a Bruins sweater.

There will be an ongoing debate on whether Bobby Orr or Wayne Gretzky who is the greatest player to lace up a pair of skates. There is no argument however in the New England area on who earns that title. While Gretzky may have been the greatest offensive force we may ever have seen, there is no mistaken what Bobby Orr brought to the defensive position and to the league as a whole. Orr was such a shoe in for the Hall of Fame that the league waived the mandatory three year waiting period for a player to be inducted. Orr was only thirty-one years old when he eaned that honor. During the ceremony to retire Orr's number, the crowd at the old Boston Garden cheered so long that portions of the pregame festivities were skipped. The crowd wouldn't stop cheering until Orr threw his number 4 sweater on to say his thanks.

Orr has records that are doubtful to ever be broken in this day in age. Such records consist of 139 points and 102 assists in the 1970-71 season both records for a defensive player and the highest +/- in one season by any player with a remarkable number of +124. It is highly unlikely that we will ever witness a defenceman put up numbers like the ones Orr posted during that 1970-71 season. Orr was a 2 time Stanley Cup Champion, Calder Trophy winner, 8 time Norris Trophy winner, 3 time Hart Trophy winner, Conn Smythe winner for both Cup victories, 8 time First All-Star team and numerous other pieces of hardware he won over the years.

There is no question about what Bobby Orr did for the Bruins and the city of Boston. He was the main reason why the Bruins became relevant again in the NHL after years of disappointment. Not only did he have his hand in resurrecting this franchise but he changed the sport of hockey from youth to the professional level. During Bobby Orr's time every kid wanted to be like him as rinks would open up in an alarming rate across northeast. Every time a fan enters the Garden and looks up to see that number 4 banner, it reminds the ones who watched Orr play how great he once was. And for the ones who didn't see the legend known as Bobby Orr play, they wish they could have seen him skate even just one of his many shifts. There was no doubt that the best way for the Boston Bruins to honor what Orr did for the team and city was to raise his number to the rafters.

Bobby Orr Highlight Video (via jchizum)

Former Bruins legend Phil Esposito was quoted as saying "No matter how fast an opponent was, Bobby could skate faster than him if he needed to do it in the framework of a play. If he was caught up-ice and the other team had an odd-man rush, that's when you saw his truly great speed. Very seldom did he not get back to have a hand in breaking up the play."