Legendary Bruins defenseman Bobby Orr, who often required the care and expertise of the Massachusetts General Hospital staff over the last 50-plus years, on Monday sent a heartfelt letter of encouragement to workers there dealing with the onslaught of coronavirus patients.
Orr, who turned 72 last month, referred to the MGH workers as “heroes” for their ongoing fight against the pandemic, which as of Monday afternoon had claimed some 75,000 lives worldwide, including 260 in the Bay State.
“This message is for everybody currently on the front lines at Mass. General, doing what you all do so well," wrote Orr.
“Thank you to the physicians, nurses, technicians, custodians, administrators, supply handlers — everyone there who is contributing in these unprecedented times. The battle against COVID-19 could never be managed without your tireless dedication, and please know that the people you serve understand your commitment and we do not take it for granted.”
Orr, who came to Boston from Parry Sound, Ontario, as a rookie in 1966, quickly became an NHL superstar, his daring dashes as a puck-handling defenseman helping transform the game. Unfortunately, he was frequently injured, and often sent him “down the street” from the Boston Garden on Causeway Street to seek help from MGH staff.
Former MGH surgeon Carter Rowe was the renowned orthopedist who tried mightily to repair Orr’s battered knees, injuries that forced him to retire a half-dozen games into the 1978-79 season. His career spanned 657 games in total, and he twice won the Stanley Cup with the Bruins, in 1970 and ’72.
“This pandemic has yet again demonstrated what everyone at Mass. General is made of as you go about your daily routines,” Orr’s letter continued. “You are not only saving lives at your wonderful facilities — you are also protecting so many more people beyond your hospital walls as a function of your efforts.
‘It strikes me that the word ‘hero’ is often used to describe athletes in our society, but in my eyes, YOU are the true heroes that I personally look up to and you are constantly on my mind. This virus is no game, so we need real life heroes to step up and bring it under control. Thankfully, that is exactly what you are doing.’
Bobby Orr's letter to MGH employees
“It strikes me that the word ‘hero’ is often used to describe athletes in our society, but in my eyes, YOU are the true heroes that I personally look up to and you are constantly on my mind. This virus is no game, so we need real life heroes to step up and bring it under control. Thankfully, that is exactly what you are doing.”
Next month, May 10, will be the 50th anniversary of Orr’s famous overtime goal that clinched the ’70 Cup — which remains the last time the Bruins won the championship on home ice. The “Flying Bobby” statue, unveiled 10 years ago, now greets Garden visitors at the entrance via the Hub on Causeway.
“Undoubtedly, the days and weeks ahead will test us in many ways,” Orr added in his letter. “But none will be tested more than those of you who continue to manage, treat and research the virus day after day after day. Given your efforts and expertise, I have great confidence in the eventual outcome of this pandemic, in no small measure because of the excellence I have personally witnessed at Mass. General.
“To all of you, please … keep on fighting the good fight, and thank you so much for all you do.
"With great respect,
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.