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CenterStage: Bobby Orr

Premieres on the YES Network Friday, November 8, 2013, 10 p.m. ET
11/06/2013 2:22 PM ET
By YES Network

Michael Kay's interview with hockey legend Bobby Orr will air following YES' Nets-Wizards Post-Game Show.
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Orr was given advice, and later an elbow, in his NHL debut in 1966 from Hall of Famer Gordie Howe.

I met Gordie (when I was younger). I stood in line for an autograph… And then I went fishing with him. He said, "Don't forget kid, if you make the NHL and we play against each other, watch (your) elbows." And he was right. I went into the offensive zone (during a game), I'm going around, I make a pass, and I'm watching my pretty pass and next thing you know, I'm lying on the ice (from) Gordie's elbow. I probably had run at Gordie earlier. So, I think he's saying, "Hey, the old guy is still around, don't do that." When Gordie hits you, it's great.

A mysterious man offered to "take care of" former NHL defenseman Pat Quinn for Orr after Quinn gave Orr a concussion during a playoff game in April 1969.

I was knocked out. Back then we were playing, you know, consecutive nights. And I played the next night. Back then it was probably a legal check. We're in Boston, and back then we stayed in a hotel. And I walked in the lobby of the hotel (after the game), and there was a rather rough, tough-looking gentleman with a hat, coat, collar up, walked over to me (and said), "Would you like us to take care of that guy?" I said, "I'll take care of Pat myself." We had a little tiff somewhere along the line. Patty's a friend, we laugh about it a lot today.

Orr doesn't want to see fighting taken out of hockey.

I'm one that's really frightened of taking fighting completely out of the game. I think this hybrid icing is wonderful. I haven't seen a player get (hit) hard in the boards. You know, one of the problems in my mind; we've opened up the game so much, and because of the size and the speed and the strength and the equipment of our guys, it's made (playing) a little more dangerous. In our game today, the players are getting better at being aware of where they are, and I think the players are being more aware; if you have a player in a vulnerable position, ease up a little bit, because you might hurt the guy. The staged fights, I don't care what you do with those guys. Let's get rid of the unnecessary stuff. You've got to have the fighting there. The fear of getting beat up, in my mind, is a great deterrent from getting silly on the ice. I don't want to see Sydney Crosby fight, I don't want to see Sydney Crosby hurt, I don't want to see Sydney in the penalty box. I want to see Sydney play. He's our greatest player.

Orr has a problem with inconsistent play of current NHL players.

Players have different levels that they should play at. And the only thing that bothers me in the game today is not seeing those players play at their level consistently. Sydney Crosby - Sydney's on a different level. If you're this level, play that consistently. The money doesn't bother me, it's just inconsistent play. You (players) should be proud of that sweater you have on, you're being paid a lot of money; it's your responsibility to play at your level consistently.

Orr and Hall of Fame baseball player Ted Williams became fishing partners after meeting at a fundraiser.

Oh, he told me how to fish...I met Ted in Boston. There's a fundraiser for Tony Conigliaro, and I'm across the room, and I see Ted Williams, and I'd never met him. So, over I go, and (said), "Mr. Williams, nice to see you." And he looks at me, I mean he's an intimidating guy right? And he says, "You caught a big one this year kid, eh, tell me about it?" Well, he fishes the Miramichi (River), you know, New Brunswick and Quebec...that year I caught a 45 pound salmon, and he had heard about it. "Tell me about it," so Ted Williams and I are standing in the corner; it's a black tie event, well Ted doesn't have a black tie on, but a black tie event, and in motioning, I kind of false cast, and he's goin', "No, no, no, no," he says. "You have to get your arm up." So… he's instructing me on casting. But from that day on, I fished with Ted, and Teddy loved my wife, Peggy 'cause she could fly fish. Best fisherman I've ever seen. People have the impression of Teddy being this rough, gruff guy. We've had a lot of fun with him. He's a sweet man.

After Orr's agent Alan Eagleson failed to disclose to Orr an offer to own stake in the Bruins in 1976, Orr went to the Blackhawks and struggled with the move: Orr's advice to current players.

Oh, it was, it was very tough. But again, my friend, my brother, his (Eagleson's) job was to help me make the best decision. But again, I didn't pay attention. We have to pay attention, and that's one of the things I talk to the players about today. It's your money, you work for it, pay attention. Financial advisor, agent, if you're asking questions, and they're balking at asking you questions, that's the red flag. It's yours, pay attention. And I didn't. But Mr. Eagleson's job was to help me make the best decision on the business side, and he didn't do it.

Why Orr chose not to sue Eagleson.

He was more than my agent, he was like a brother to me. I trusted him over the years. I had a number of people coming to me and say, "Hey, you better be careful, you know, da, da, da, da, da." I said, "Hey, leave us alone, he's my friend, he's doing the right thing." And in the end, I just had to get away from him. He was just not a person I wanted to be around. I knew there was going to be problems. He was charged and put in jail. Fraud, embezzlement, so on and so forth. He's been stripped of the Order of Canada, out of the Hall of Fame, disbarred. And people say, "Well, why didn't you sue him?" And many think that my affairs were part of the charges, and they were not. One, I just wanted to get away from him, I didn't want to see him. Two, I didn't have the money to hire a lawyer. And it took the U.S. government almost five years to get him to come down here to pay charges. He was just a greedy, greedy man. By the way, the Canadian authorities have pardoned him. Yeah, never mind what he's done to me. What he did to so many players, insurance fraud, and the international hockey money that was supposed to go to pensions, and on and on and on. The people he hurts, it's disgraceful, and he should be ashamed.

Orr's take on former coach and current commentator Don Cherry.

Love him or hate him, you listened to him. The guy is unbelievable. Everyone thinks he's this big rough, gruff guy. He's a softie. Sorry, Don. He's a wonderful man; caring. You see how he is with the troops. I can't count the number of times that I get letters from him. He's doing something for a sick child, or a sick adult. What he means to our game in my mind is incredible. I walk down the street with Don Cherry and they say, "Who's the guy with Don?" I mean, this guy, to go through an airport with him, he's amazing. Whether you like him or dislike him, you go into a restaurant or bar and they see Coach's Corner (Cherry's TV show) coming on, the volume goes up and…complete hush. You may not agree with his opinion, people aren't going to agree with everything I say in there, I understand that, but he's paid to give his opinion. The guy is incredible, and loves the game. He loves the game.

The Bruins weren't originally scouting Orr when he was younger. They found him by "mistake" at a tournament east of Toronto.

The Bruins found me by mistake, and no one came to Parry Sound scouting. I went to a town called Gananoque, which was East of Toronto, to play in a playoff series, and the Bruins were there scouting a couple of other players who they were trying to sign for their team in Oshawa. And we happened to be playing them in the playoffs, and all the Bruins scouts were there, and even the owner was there. That's how they found me. It was really a mistake.

Orr kept his Boston teammates Derek Sanderson and Phil Esposito in line with the "Orr Look."

Derek, I think, tells one of the great stories. There's a post, and he'd be behind the post, but inside I could see Phil, so there's Phil and Derek, but Derek was behind the post, and some nights I would look at Derek, like, "Hey, what the heck are you doing? Get moving." Apparently Derek and Phil are talking, and Derek says to Phil, "Is he looking?" And Phil said, "Yeah, I think he is. Well, who's he looking at?" He said, "I've got two goals. So he must be looking at you."

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