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On This Date in Sports November 8, 1978: Bobby Calls it a Career

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

Just a month into the season, after playing six games with the Chicago Black Hawks, Bobby Orr is forced to announce his retirement at the age of 30, due to lingering trouble with his knee. Orr played 12 seasons, in the NHL the first ten with the Boston Bruins, winning two Stanley Cups, three Hart Trophies and five Norris Trophies, before his knee injury.

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Robert Gordon Orr was born in Parry Sound, Ontario on March 20, 1948. While playing with the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League it was clear that Bobby Orr was destined for greatness, as a local attorney named Alan Eagleson became his agent with the hopes of landing him a big deal before he ever played a game in the NHL. Threatening to refuse to play for the Bruins, Eagleson was able to leverage Orr into the biggest contract in NHL history opening the door for the entire league to get paid more.

Bobby Orr quickly showed he was worth the lofty pay as he won the Calder Trophy given to the NHL’s top rookie, with 13 goals and 28 assists in 1967. At the time, he was the youngest Rookie of the Year in NHL history. The following season, Orr won the first of a record eight straight Norris Trophies, given to the top defenseman in the NHL. In 1970, Bobby Orr became the first blueliner to win a scoring title with 33 goals and 87 assists as he won the first of three Hart Trophies for the NHL MVP. That year, Bobby Orr led the Bruins to the Stanley Cup scoring the game-winner, in what has become one of the most iconic photos in NHL history. Orr would have an even better season 1971 winning the Hart Trophy again as he had a career-best 102 assists, to go along with 37 goals. In 1972, Orr won a third Hart and a second Stanley Cup. In each of the Bruins Stanley Cup runs, Bobby Orr won the Conn Smythe given to the Playoff MVP. Orr added a second scoring title in 1975, as he had a career-best 46 goals with 89 assists.

Even while he was setting defensive scoring records, Bobby Orr dealt with pain in his knee. In his tenth and final season in Boston, with negotiations for a contract extension stalled, the injury became too much for him to handle, as he was limited to just ten games in the 1975/76 season. Following the season, after failing to get a new contract with the Bruins, Bobby Orr signed a five-year deal with the Chicago Black Hawks worth $3 million. However, the troublesome knee continued to be a problem as he played just 26 games in his first season with the Black Hawks. Over the next two years, Orr had a series of surgeries, missing the entire 1977/78 season. Looking to make a comeback in 1978, Bobby Orr was no longer to make quick moves on the ice, decided he was only hurting his team and announced his decision to retire in a tear-filled news conference.

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Just a few months are retiring; the Boston Bruins retired the famous #4 jersey, as the Hockey Hall of Fame waived the three-year wait and inducted Bobby Orr into the Hall of Fame in 1979. At the time of his retirement, Orr had the record for goals 270, assists 645 and points 915 by a defenseman.