Orr delivering exactly as advertised

Sunday marks the one-year anniversary of Brian Burke’s appointment as president and general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs. On the day he took the post, Burke vowed to build the team on the foundation of “belligerence, pugnacity, truculence and testosterone”.

Colton Orr, a Burke free-agent signing, has delivered on this mantra.

Make no mistake – Orr was certainly not inked to a 4-year, 4-million deal with any intention of converting him to a scorer. With just 4 goals and twelve points in his NHL career that is entering its fifth season, he is clearly no blood relative of Bobby Orr, and trails the Hall of Fame defenseman by 903 points on the all-time list.

Orr has merely filled the role of the team’s top enforcer, in the same mold as his numerical predecessor Tie Domi, who also wore #28 on the Leafs. The 27-year-old Winnipeg native is tied for fifth in the NHL in fighting majors (8) and fourth in penalty minutes (64) through Friday’s games.

Burke received a return on his pugilistic investment no later than the 1:51 mark of the first period of the season opener when Orr and Georges Laraque squared off during the Canadiens’ visit to Air Canada Centre.

Almost all of Orr’s combatants have predictably been heavyweights with whom he has had ongoing feuds as a member of the Bruins and the Rangers: Laraque, Eric Godard, Donald Brashear, David Koci, George Parros, Brian McGrattan, Matt Carkner and – Friday night against Florida – Steve MacIntyre.

Most of the fights have been fairly even, although Orr did get pummeled handily by Godard in a loss to Pittsburgh, while winning handily over Carkner two weeks ago in Ottawa. The Leafs first win of the season came in Anaheim against Burke’s former team that battered its way to a Stanley Cup in 2007. The donnybrook between Orr and Parros was highlighted by Orr’s apparent shoving of linesman Brian Murphy in an effort to cease being restrained, an action which inexplicably escaped suspension.

Each of Orr’s eight fights have come in the first period, with the Leafs either tied or trailing; an obvious strategy to ignite the team that has often had listless and lethargic starts to their games. On 12 occasions this season, Toronto has given up the first two goals of the game.

Clearly Orr maximizes what little ice time is given to him (5:50 per game, last among all Leafs skaters) by using his fists to fill the role in which he is assigned.

At $1-million a season, Orr’s contract is certainly in line with the role in which he was assigned to do; earning less than Brashear and Laraque, but more than McGrattan and Godard.

He’ll never be compared with the Orr named Bobby. He’ll just provide more ‘bang’ for his bucks.


Rob Del Mundo is the author of Blue And White Beat, and is a regular columnist at TMLfans.ca

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