Niagara Gazette

Columns

January 5, 2014

SINGER: The virtues of regret

Niagara Gazette — One of Edith Piaf’s signature songs had it that she regretted nothing, and of course Sinatra — doing it Paul Anka’s “My Way” — caroled that his regrets were few in number. And hey, accomplished types known regionally, like Marv or Thurman, may have only four regrets — all Super Bowls!

Is it worse, however, when you need an adding machine to tote up one’s regrets? Perhaps, because everything you would have changed at key turning points would also have required different prices to be paid. In retrospect, the grass may look greener, but no matter which way one goes, it still needs mowing and weeding.

I thought of this recently, reading Bobby Orr’s fall 2013 autobiography. Anything but a mere sports memoir, the book reeks of philosophical wisdom on many of its pages, and partly, that’s the wisdom of regret.

The great Orr has regrets? Plenty. First, this deeply humble man knows that the peripatetic life he led in the NHL, and with high standards and demands on his time, precluded sustained pleasures of parenting, though he’s gained something of a reprieve via grand-parenting.

Second comes a regret that having broken in at 18, he continued to embrace his revolutionary style of rushing from defense up ice, cradling the puck, and thereby becoming a repetitive target. He simply couldn’t change and salutes coaches who let him do it, helping Boston win in the process. However, after much pain from being incessantly slammed, Orr’s knees were shot his last few years, and he left the game he lived for at 30.

Another regret is how much he trusted his former agent, Alan Eagleson, who turned out to be a big problem. Plus the fact that the current game lacks sustained intensity, due to multi-year lucre far surpassing wages of yore. And given hockey’s rule changes, Orr also denotes new injury clusters in the game, and unfair calls.

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