Stu on Sports: The shine has come off my boyhood hero Bobby Orr

I’ll still make the argument he was the greatest hockey player ever, but I’ll sadly scratch him off my hero list for endorsing Donald Trump.

MONTREAL, QUE.: OCTOBER 7, 2010-- Hockey Hall of Fame legend Bobby Orr, who is known for his career with the Boston Bruins, high-fives Bruins fan Nicholas Tsaboukos, 9, during a meet with fans at the Chevrolet Plaza in Ville Saint-Laurent in Montreal on Thursday, October 7, 2010. Orr is the spokesman for the Chevrolet Safe & Fun Hockey program. (Dario Ayala / THE GAZETTE)

It’s always a sad day when your childhood sports heroes let you down.

Friday was one of those days for me and I imagine many hockey fans who grew up in the 1970s.

I was raised in Montreal as a Canadiens fan, but my favourite player was Boston Bruins superstar Bobby Orr.

I still have a poster in my home office of Orr posing with the Stanley Cup and the Prince of Wales trophy from 1972. The poster used to be on my bedroom wall when I was a kid and years ago, while cleaning out my late mother’s basement, I had a huge smile on my face when I found the poster stored away in a box and still in good shape.

Above that poster in my office now is another one of Orr flying through the air after scoring his famous overtime goal in 1970 against the St. Louis Blues to end the Bruins’ 29-year Stanley Cup drought. There is also a framed photo of me with Orr, taken a couple of years ago when I saw him for the first time in person in the press lounge in Florida before a game between the Canadiens and the Panthers.

It was the first time I had ever seen Orr in person and I couldn’t stop staring at him as he sat eating his dinner. After debating with myself for a few minutes, I decided to walk over and introduce myself and for the first time on the job as a journalist I asked someone if they minded posing for a photo with me.

Orr, who now works as a player agent, obliged and couldn’t have been nicer or more polite. Afterwards, I wondered how many hundreds of thousands of times Orr has posed for photos with fans.

When fans and friends want to argue with me about who was the greatest hockey player who ever lived, I don’t hesitate to make my points about why Orr ranks above all the rest.

“Perhaps you do not like his tweets or how the President says things sometimes, and that is your right,” Orr writes. “But remember this is not a personality contest; it’s about policies and the people those policies assist.

“I have never done anything like this before, but I am greatly concerned for the country in which I have raised my family – a country I have grown to love deeply. I want my grandchildren to know the America I know, a place of patriotism and opportunity.

“Some of you may still be undecided at this point. Your vote for President Trump would help keep America moving forward in the years ahead.

“So please, join Peggy and me in supporting President Donald J. Trump for re-election in this important election.”

At this point, it shouldn’t come as a shock that a rich, white man living in America would support Trump, especially when you consider that Joe Biden plans to raise taxes on people making more than US$400,000 instead of giving huge tax breaks to the very rich, as Trump has already done.

Pro athletes make a lot of money — so do player agents — and earlier this week golf legend Jack Nicklaus and former NFL quarterback Brett Favre both took to Twitter to express their support for Trump. I’m sure there are many other pro athletes who feel the same way but haven’t openly endorsed Trump.

There’s a saying that politics and sports shouldn’t mix and Orr, like every American, can obviously support and vote for whoever he likes in Tuesday’s presidential election. But learning that one of my boyhood heroes supports and endorses a narcissistic president who doesn’t try to hide his racism, is a compulsive liar, calls the media “the enemy of the people,” refuses to listen to scientists and doctors as the COVID-19 pandemic gets worse and looks to divide rather than bring people together, it hit me like an open-ice bodycheck.

It shouldn’t have because I’ve been around pro sports as a journalist long enough to know that sometimes the less fans know about their heroes away from the field or arena, the better off they are.

I’ll still make the argument that Bobby Orr was the greatest hockey player ever, but I’ll sadly scratch him off my hero list.

The stain of Trump just won’t wash away.

I will continue to do that, but I’ll never again look at Orr with the same boyhood wonder after he took out a full-page ad Friday in the New Hampshire Union Leader supporting Donald Trump in his re-election bid for U.S. President.

The ad includes a photo of Orr and his wife, Peggy, posing with Trump while they all give the thumbs-up sign.

“Everyone has an opinion as our upcoming Presidential election approaches, and I am no different,” Orr writes in the ad. “When I look at America during these turbulent times, I keep trying to separate style from substance, fact from fiction.

“This much I know. Our current president has had to operate under extremely difficult conditions over the past several years. In addition, no leader anywhere signed up with the idea that dealing with a worldwide pandemic would be part of their mandate. The attacks on our President have been unrelenting since the day he took office. Despite that, President Trump has delivered for all the American people, regardless of race, gender, or station in life.

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