Niagara Gazette — But his most serious regret is for youth — the fact that his kind of growing up experience belongs to a vanished time. He knows he can’t greatly alter societal trends, but at least has a caring, non-egotistical wisdom about the way things have evolved.
Kids in his place and day played hockey outside each chance they got, and were less regimented, systematized, and hectored by elders who considered themselves omniscient. Instead, Orr and friends mostly learned on their own — five on five, 10 on 10 ...
In his day up north there was barely any TV, so one didn’t glue oneself to the tube, nor to as yet uninvented computers. But Orr knows (as he now surveys empty places where his generation of pucksters honed skills) that things have greatly changed; and if sadness (in my view) is a first cousin to wisdom, Bobby O. reveals much of both in this classy memoir.
He also demonstrates the gratitude to realize he was himself a kind of salmon, heavily aided in making it over many shoals to star unforgettably in pro hockey — due to both support and non-interference from parents and coaches who let him be himself, and from veteran players who became mentors and protectors; not to mention from many unsung (the guy who turned on lights in a hometown arena, so he could grab extra ice time, families who billeted this pup in Junior A, and on it went).
Orr says, and again, regrets that today’s coaches would probably not have allowed him to blossom as he did, figuring out what worked night after night in minor and major league arenas. But again, his regrets are anything but purely self-oriented — they’re regrets for the thousands and thousands of young as fragile as he was, and who too frequently give up on dreams.