Monday, 18 February 2008

An Oshawa Injustice

As I get caught up after our weekend of insanity known as "league playoffs", I am shocked to find out that the Oshawa Generals will be honouring Eric Lindros in a retirement ceremony on March 6, 2008 by raising his #88 to the rafters of General Motors Place. Eric starred for the OHL's Generals from 1989 until 1992 before he was drafted first overall by the Quebec Nordiques in 1991. Of course, the rest is NHL history. His #88 will join Red Tilson's #9 as the only two numbers in Oshawa Generals' history to have been officially retired. And therein lies the rub. How is it that a guy like Lindros can have his jersey retired before arguably the greatest defenceman of all-time in Bobby Orr?

Look, Lindros put up phenomenal numbers as a junior hockey player in the OHL. In 95 OHL games, Eric Lindros scored 97 goals and 119 assists for 216 points. He averaged 2.27 points per game, and was the most dominant junior player of his time. Of this, there is no argument. He led the Oshawa Generals to the 1990 Memorial Cup. He was a force to be reckoned with in junior hockey, and he looked like a future NHL great. It could be said that Lindros was the new power forward with his size and scoring prowess, taking over from such greats as Cam Neely and Phil Esposito.

But what about the man who revolutionized an entire position? Bobby Orr changed the way defencemen played the game. Players such as Scott Niedermayer, Paul Coffey, and Phil Housley were essentially following Bobby Orr's lead in being excellent offensive defencemen.

Bobby Orr's junior numbers were excellent as well. In 159 games with the Generals, Bobby Orr scored 101 goals and 158 assists for 259 points as a defenceman. Orr averaged 1.63 points per game as a defenceman. While I am not making a case of "who's better than whom", it is clear that the Oshawa Generals seem to be missing a familiar number hanging from their rafters.

This has nothing to do with their NHL numbers or NHL contributions. This examination of both men's careers is simply a look at their junior careers only. Their NHL contributions alone have shaped the NHL in significant ways.

The game in Oshawa on March 6 will undoubtedly sell out fast. The Generals play the St. Michael's Majors, and the crowd will be large to see one of Oshawa's favourite sons have his jersey retired. The Oshawa Generals' website even states, "[h]e won the Red Tilson Trophy as the OHL’s MVP and will go down in history as one of the greatest Generals of all times". I'm sure TSN and Rogers Sportsnet will have coverage of the event, and the NHLPA's Ombudsman will be there to watch his jersey hoisted to the ceiling.

My only question is when will Oshawa do the same for the man many consider the one of greatest hockey players of all-time, and arguably the best defenceman the game of hockey has ever seen? This seems to be an all-time great injustice.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!


Jibblescribbits said...


I can't believe the junior team that had Bobby Orr hasn't retired his number, that would seem like a no brainer.

Good stuff, as always, Teebz

Anonymous said...

Orr's number is going to be retired.
The Generals have contacted him about it, but he feels that it's not the right time yet.
I believe the tentative date for the retirement is sometime in Nov of next year.
There are also plans for Andreychuk and several other players.