One of the greatest hockey players ever says fighting has its place in the professional game.
Bobby Orr, in an exclusive sit down interview with NBC’s Bob Costas on Costas Tonight, discussed his stance on what’s become a hot-button issue in the NHL this season, explaining how enforcers actually allow skill players to play to the best of their abilities.
“If a player has done something that he shouldn’t be doing, or is trying to intimidate a player that doesn’t play like that, if you’re trying to take liberties with a player that doesn’t play like that, there should be a policeman there,” Orr explained. “I want to see the skill players play. I don’t want to see them looking over their shoulders.
“That’s what makes our game great. We’ve got a lot of skilled players in this game. I go back to Sidney [Crosby] — where do you want Sidney? Fighting? Penalty box? Injured? Or do you want to see him play?”
Here’s the video:
As Costas refers to, there’s a distinct difference in opinion on the matter between Orr and his former head coach in Boston, Don Cherry.
During the 1974-75 season — the first Orr and Cherry were together in Boston — the Bruins fought 40 times in 80 games, fifth most in the NHL. Notorious tough guy Terry O’Reilly (the team leader in scraps, with 12) knew his job was to protect his star players and allow them time and space to play, something he did well as Orr set an NHL record for goals by a defenseman (46) while Phil Esposito led the league in tallies, with 61.
(This was also the year that Dave Schultz set an NHL record for most penalty minutes in a season, racking up 472 for the “Broad Street Bullies” Flyers team that went on to win the Stanley Cup. Schultz fought an unbelievable 25 times that season.)
Orr was quick, however, to point out that fighting needs to have its limits in the professional game.
“We gotta get rid of the foolishness,” Orr explained. “The things that happen for no reason. If we get rid of that, we’ll be fine.”
To watch the entire Orr-Costas interview, be sure to watch Costas Now on NBCSN on Tuesday, Nov. 19 at 11 p.m. ET following the Rangers-Bruins game.