Fifty years to the day that Bobby Orr played his first game for the Bruins, coach Claude Julien, another proud son of Ontario, reflected on No. 4’s legacy.
“As a young kid, he was my idol,’’ recalled Julien, who was 6½ years old when Orr, at age 18, first suited up for the Bruins on Oct. 19, 1966. “I played defense, so I watched him play and I didn’t come close to playing like him. I loved watching him play.’’
Julien, who grew up near Ottawa, a considerable distance from Orr’s home in Parry Sound, played his first days of junior hockey with the Oshawa Generals, the same team Orr played for after signing with the Bruins as an amateur. Julien arrived with the Generals in 1977, by which time Orr had departed Boston and joined the Blackhawks as a free agent.
“I still remember interviews of him as a kid,’’ said Julien, “and he was as shy as could be. Today, he’s a much different person.
“His career ended way too early. But for the short amount of time he played, he certainly left his imprint on the game and no doubt he’s a legend. He’s a great person, fun to be around and fun to talk to.’’
Now 68 and living much of the year in Florida, Orr is the patriarch of a family-owned player agency that represents hockey clients.
Orr, his career cut short by knee injuries, eight times was named the league’s top defenseman (Norris Trophy) and three times was MVP (Hart Trophy). He finished with more than 100 points in six consecutive seasons and helped lead the Bruins to Stanley Cup championships in 1970 and ’72.
“You’re a kid, he’s your idol,’’ said Julien, noting how fortunate he feels to have a lasting friendship with Orr. “Pretty lucky, I guess, to have that happen to you. It doesn’t happen to too many people. I am one of the fortunate ones to know him quite a long time.’’
Filling in well
Injured defenseman Adam McQuaid, yet to play this season, joined the injured Patrice Bergeron in making it through the full workout in Brighton ion Wednesday.
“It might be a little different for McQuaid,’’ said Julien, who expects Bergeron to play Thursday. “He might need a few more days, but I think he is close.’’
The 6-foot-4-inch McQuaid, who just celebrated his 30th birthday, has remained out of the blue line mix along with Kevan Miller (hand fracture). Their absence, in part, led to the Bruins using raw rookies Brandon Carlo and Rob O’Gara.
“Those two young guys, the first three games, for never having played in the league, I thought they handled themselves fairly well,’’ said Julien. “There were some mistakes made and areas we’ll keep working with them on, but those guys have been a good addition to our group.
“Whether they are here short-term, long-term, it doesn’t really matter. At the end of the day they are going to be bona fide NHLers.’’
Third-year winger David Pastrnak played in his 100th NHL game Monday and contributed his team-high fourth goal of the season. In three games, the Czech winger has landed 15 shots, also high on the team and 10th overall in the NHL through Tuesday.
“I don’t think we were ever not wanting him to shoot,’’ said Julien, asked if shooting more was a point he stressed on Pastrnak. “I think he is getting himself into positions where he can shoot. He is quick on the puck.
“When you come into the league at 18 years old, you are always looking over your shoulder and you’re not quite as strong as you need to be. But right now, I don’t think he feels there is anything holding him back to be successful.
“He doesn’t feel intimidated. He’s winning battles. You see him go against [Dustin] Byfuglien [in Winnipeg Monday], and Byfuglien wasn’t going to intimidate him. He went right back at him. That’s the sign of a guy who’s very confident right now.
Coffee, tea, or Z?
Team captain Zdeno Chara wandered into the club’s media room at Warrior Ice Arena, where a gaggle of reporters and videographers filled the cushy theater-style seats while awaiting the daily update from Julien. “We wouldn’t have gotten this room if not for you guys,’’ said a smiling Big Z, cradling a lunch consisting of banana and power bar. “So thanks.’’ One wag in the group returned the thanks and noted to Chara that they might appreciate a few snacks themselves. “Oh, OK,’’ he said. “Did you press the button?’’
Video: Patrice Bergeron returns to Bruins practice