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Game Changing Influence - Head-2-Head Superstar Review (Best Hockey Player Ever): Bobby Orr vs. Wayne Gretzky
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posted on Apr 28, 2011 at 4:09PM

Head-2-Head Superstar Review (Best Hockey Player Ever): Bobby Orr vs. Wayne Gretzky

Game Changing Influence

By Matthew Awrey
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H2H ROUND-4: Game Changing Influence

H2H USER SCORE
View Official Scorecard

There was no question that every player, coach, and fan knew when number four stepped on the ice. His stride alone was such that you could literally see him pull away from the opposition. Combine that skating ability with incredible vision and a very strong shot, and you have a threat that is capable of changing the game at any moment. And yes, I will say it again, Orr was a defenseman first. So we know he provided the fans with an incredible viewing experience game in and game out, but his parting gift to hockey nation was significantly bigger than entertainment. Most notable, on a team level, Orr made everyone aware that there are five players on the ice that are capable of setting up plays and scoring goals. But it all starts with skating. On an individual level, he has helped a lot of people make money in the hockey industry. No, not just from shirts and paraphernalia sold, but from power skating and hockey skill programs. He has to have been the poster boy from which all of these programs were born. Look at his stride, his crossovers, his pivots, and dare to compare another player from his era or before with him. The day that Orr stepped on the ice with a spoked B jersey on his back was the day that individual training methods, the way scouts rank defenseman, and the way coaches coach the game forever changed. 


 

bobby orr famously scores the stanley cup winning goal
(Credit: SI Kids)
wayne gretzky one of the best nhl winners of all time
(Credit: Oilers Jambalaya)

 

What was uncanny about Gretzky was, there were often times that as a fan, or perhaps even early on, as a coach, where you were not aware of his presence on the ice. And then, after he scored his fourth point of the night, everyone is shaking their head asking, ‘How did he do that?’ Surely as time passed, every coach knew that it was imperative that he be shadowed by their best defensive forward, and the top set of D should be on the ice to try to stop him. However, even so, he scored 200+ points three times while he was the opponent’s number one target. So how did he do it?

In the end, it was all about puck control and getting every member of the team involved in the offense for Gretzky. He is perhaps the godfather of the ‘five men up and five men back’ style that the game has become today. The trend may have started prior to Gretzky, but, puck control, using all five players to advance the puck up the ice with the sole purpose of creating high percentage scoring opportunities was what he orchestrated on a shift-by-shift basis. The style of the game, in terms of an offensive strategy, was forever changed.

Where Orr may well have been 30 years ahead of his time with pure physical dominance, my feeling is that Gretzky may well prove to be 50 years ahead of his time from a hockey IQ perspective. Like a puppet master, Gretzky was able to dictate the movements of nine other players every shift.

Bobby Orr was not only the best skating defensemen, but I think he was the best skater in the game to that point. His influence was pronounced. Gretzky, on the other hand, dominated the game with a subtlety that spread the spotlight.


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Game Changing Influence - Head-2-Head Superstar Review (Best Hockey Player Ever): Bobby Orr vs. Wayne Gretzky
BETA
HEAD-2-HEAD REVIEWS
Top Reviews>>
posted on Apr 28, 2011 at 4:09PM

Head-2-Head Superstar Review (Best Hockey Player Ever): Bobby Orr vs. Wayne Gretzky

Game Changing Influence

By Matthew Awrey
 

H2H ROUND-4: Game Changing Influence

H2H USER SCORE
View Official Scorecard

There was no question that every player, coach, and fan knew when number four stepped on the ice. His stride alone was such that you could literally see him pull away from the opposition. Combine that skating ability with incredible vision and a very strong shot, and you have a threat that is capable of changing the game at any moment. And yes, I will say it again, Orr was a defenseman first. So we know he provided the fans with an incredible viewing experience game in and game out, but his parting gift to hockey nation was significantly bigger than entertainment. Most notable, on a team level, Orr made everyone aware that there are five players on the ice that are capable of setting up plays and scoring goals. But it all starts with skating. On an individual level, he has helped a lot of people make money in the hockey industry. No, not just from shirts and paraphernalia sold, but from power skating and hockey skill programs. He has to have been the poster boy from which all of these programs were born. Look at his stride, his crossovers, his pivots, and dare to compare another player from his era or before with him. The day that Orr stepped on the ice with a spoked B jersey on his back was the day that individual training methods, the way scouts rank defenseman, and the way coaches coach the game forever changed. 


 

bobby orr famously scores the stanley cup winning goal
(Credit: SI Kids)
wayne gretzky one of the best nhl winners of all time
(Credit: Oilers Jambalaya)

 

What was uncanny about Gretzky was, there were often times that as a fan, or perhaps even early on, as a coach, where you were not aware of his presence on the ice. And then, after he scored his fourth point of the night, everyone is shaking their head asking, ‘How did he do that?’ Surely as time passed, every coach knew that it was imperative that he be shadowed by their best defensive forward, and the top set of D should be on the ice to try to stop him. However, even so, he scored 200+ points three times while he was the opponent’s number one target. So how did he do it?

In the end, it was all about puck control and getting every member of the team involved in the offense for Gretzky. He is perhaps the godfather of the ‘five men up and five men back’ style that the game has become today. The trend may have started prior to Gretzky, but, puck control, using all five players to advance the puck up the ice with the sole purpose of creating high percentage scoring opportunities was what he orchestrated on a shift-by-shift basis. The style of the game, in terms of an offensive strategy, was forever changed.

Where Orr may well have been 30 years ahead of his time with pure physical dominance, my feeling is that Gretzky may well prove to be 50 years ahead of his time from a hockey IQ perspective. Like a puppet master, Gretzky was able to dictate the movements of nine other players every shift.

Bobby Orr was not only the best skating defensemen, but I think he was the best skater in the game to that point. His influence was pronounced. Gretzky, on the other hand, dominated the game with a subtlety that spread the spotlight.


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7 Comments So Far …

  1. JJ JJ says:
    Although Gretzky had the numbers, it doesn't seem that he was ever the sharpest knife in the drawer...and you think Gretzky was was more instrumental to his team than Orr because of his brains?

  2. Matt Awry Matt Awry says:
    JJ... Perhaps I should have clarified my statement by referring to hockey sense...or hockey IQ... I am pretty sure neither Gretzky nor Orr were Rhode Scholars...

  3. Wayne Newton Wayne Newton says:
    I love Gretzky, He was a great offensive machine, But what Orr did in his short time in the NHL was beyond great. The most telling stat-+597 in 657 games. Gretz is +518 in 1,487 games and had multiple 200 point seasons (which by the way he still couldn't top Orr's +124 for a season).

  4. ben ben says:
    I've got to go with Gretzky. FIrst of all just look at his stats. He's the only person to get pass 2000 points. He has more assists than anyone else has points. And he has the most goals than anybody else. In 1400 games, he got 2800 points (approximately). Thats double. Bobby Orr only has a third more points than he does have points. Gretzky's the only one who got past the 200 point mark in a single season. And he even did that 4 times. Then everybody talks about the different positions they play. But if you watch Gretzky's games, for half of the time he's on the ice, he switches places with the defencmen. Now thats amazing. So in the end, I have got to give Gretzky the brighter light.

  5. Halia Halia says:
    Gretzky was a master at intercepting passes, knocking down pucks, and stick checking...he was really great at causing turnovers in the neutral zone..You don't put up those kind of numbers without knowing what to do when you don't have the puck...no one could see the game like gretzky...

  6. Lon Caselton Lon Caselton says:
    If you have any questions about who was the Greatest ever, all you need to do is watch "Above and Beyond". It tells the whole story of Gretzky and his significance to not only Hockey but his accomplishments compared to other sports. He did more for the game than anyone. Retired since 99 (figures) still holds about over 50 records. Think about that.

  7. Cape Cod Paulie Cape Cod Paulie says:
    Bobby Orr was the most incredible, complete and unearthly player the NHL has ever known. In fact, he may be the greatest professional athlete of all time. Gretzky was superb but was not a complete player. Orr was multi-dimensional and tough ... Gretzky was only a scorer. Bobby Orr is the greateast hockey player of all-time. BTW, Gordie Howe is #2.

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