Enforcer Advent Calendar – December 6th – Colton Orr

Enforcer Advent Calendar – December 6th – Colton Orr

For an array of reasons, December 2020 will be a month none of us will ever forget. The toll this pandemic has taken on society has been different for every individual in every part of the world. Regardless, we can all relate to experiencing some anxiety, stress and fear about the uncertainty of things. That’s why it felt fitting to put out the ‘Enforcer Advent Calendar.’ These warriors dealt with the aforementioned emotions night-in and night-out to a degree that only they can truly comprehend. I get it – it’s been tough not being able to go out with the boys, see a good game and cheer-on a good scrap, but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate the past. It sucks because enforcers are sometimes forgotten by fair-weather fans but, luckily, the diehards will always chant their name in the arenas and on the streets. Whichever side you land on, here’s a reminder of a few legends.

December 6th – Colton Orr

What do Tim Duncan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Ken Norton and Colton Orr all have in common? They all started playing their sport much later than their peers yet were still able to master their craft in their respective sports realms. Colton Orr didn’t start playing hockey until his dad tossed him on the outdoor rink at 11-years old and, in only 3 years, he was drafted into the WHL. I don’t know about you, but I have been trying to learn Italian for 3 years on Rosetta Stone and I’m still terrible, which – to me – makes this feat even more impressive and humbling. The Winnipeg native found his niche early when coaches were sending him out to hit and intimidate the opposition. Orr described his first fight at 14 as nerve-racking, but also exciting because the whole crowd was cheering. It was very Canadiana. While he admits that, in hindsight, he wouldn’t let 14-year-olds fight if he was coaching now, it was a different time back then. Orr kept the momentum going. Even though he went undrafted, he persevered and signed with the Boston Bruins in 2003. Taking on the biggest and toughest enforcers whenever he was asked to do so, and sometimes when he wasn’t, it didn’t take Orr long to make his impact known.

Colton Orr vs Eric Godard – February 02, 2006 – 1st period – 7:38

“Now you’re in New York, these streets will make you feel brand new. Big lights will inspire you, Let’s Hear it for New York!”

Colton Orr certainly channeled his Empire State of Mind when, donning the legendary Rangers jersey, he decided to have his first fight representing New York city. When the Rangers picked up Orr off waivers, the Manitoba native looked to make an impact and immediately solidify his spot in the lineup. And what better way to do this then with a bout against their Long Island foe and Eric Godard. The two gladiators emerged from their home-away-from-home (the penalty box) and immediately dropped the gloves. The fans at the Nassau Coliseum knew what was coming and started cheering before these two even threw a punch… and it was an absolute brawl. Grabbing Godard’s jersey, Orr started the party with a good right hand and Goddard responded with a hard, straight right of his own. The two got a hold of each other and started trading, with both giants landing some big blows. At about the 23 second mark, Godard attempted to shake off his elbow pad, leaving himself open to a huge right hand from Orr that was followed up by a slick jersey-jab. After a few missed punches, Godard landed a big body shot, which prompted Orr to lose his balance and left him staring up at the Islanders enforcer from the ice. The judges’ card could go either way on this one but, after the tilt, Orr skated to the penalty box, while Godard went to the dressing room for repairs. The Rangers left Long Island with a 5-2 win. New York fans knew they finally had an enforcer who could protect the likes of Michael Nylander and Jaromir Jagr.

Colton Orr vs Brian McGrattan – November 14, 2009 – 1st Period – 2:27

The Toronto Maple Leafs raised some eyebrows when they brought in Colton Orr on a 4-year, $4-million contract during the summer of 09’. This was big money for an enforcer and Orr wanted to prove to the Leafs’ brass and fanbase that they hadn’t made a bad investment. The former Swift Current Bronco seized the opportunity to show his worth by introducing his million-dollar fists to Brian Mcgrattan during Hockey Night in Canada. After quick goals from Jerome Iginla and Eric Nystrom, the Leafs were down by 2 early. Orr knew he needed to give his team a jolt and, hopefully, fans at the Air Canada Centre a Saturday night bout they would never forget. Although the two heavyweights had danced before, it was never wearing a Flames or Leafs jersey. Neither of them had a problem christening their new jerseys by tossing some bombs. Orr landed a quick right hand and McGrattan responded with a right of his own. The turning point of the bout was when Orr was able to shake off his elbow pad and start teeing off unrestricted over hand rights, including two back-to-back bangers at the 20 second mark. The million-dollar man didn’t stop there and landed a straight right jab at the 30 second mark that gashed McGrattan’s nose and knocked off his helmet. No enforcer wants to get rocked so hard that their helmet comes off, but with that ‘unique’ hairstyle, McGrattan had added motivation to keep his lid on. To be fair, McGrattan landed a couple shots near the end, but a final right hook from Orr was enough for the linesmen to jump in and end the one-sided affair. These warriors deserve all the credit in the world for doing the work they do so kudos to McGrattan for staring up at the jumbotron with a smile on his face even though he clearly left the tilt on the losing end. Even though the Leafs would go on to finish last in the Northeast Division, Orr proved his worth by showing a sold-out arena the damage he was capable of inflicting, night-in-and-night-out.

Colton Orr vs Zack Stortini – December 14, 2010 – 2nd period – 12:19

It’s a Souray! It’s a Penner! No, it’s a Stortini! The announcers had trouble identifying Orr’s dance partner on that chilly night in Edmonton but they quickly recognized him after the punches started getting thrown. Orr was willing to fight anyone at the draw and he just so happened to line up against the former Sudbury Wolves enforcer. While their bout was delayed when Colin Fraser got tossed out of the circle, leaving Stortini to be his replacement, they made sure they met up as soon as possible. Orr started the party off with a couple huge right hands, forcing Stortini to grab him in hopes of slowing the flurry down. Both enforcers snuck in some body shots while they grappled for position, but once Orr got his right arm loose he landed some huge overhand rights. Stortini was able to throw Orr to the ice but the feisty scrapper wasn’t done yet. He managed to get back to his skates, pin Stortini against the glass and land two rockin’ uppercuts to the already shaken Stortini. After a couple more rights were landed by Orr, the linesmen quickly jumped in and the crowd went nuts. You would think that crowd was from Toronto (to be honest, a lot of them probably were). Regardless, fans know how hard and expensive it is to get Leafs tickets in Toronto, so they pounce on the opportunity to watch their team live when they come to places like Edmonton, Calgary or Winnipeg. That’s why, even when the Oilers enforcer was clearly at the losing end of this bout, the roar was so deafening. The fans at Rexall loved to see a show and, while Stortini undoubtedly lost this bout, Oil’ fans appreciated that he traded blows with an established heavyweight.

After spending over a decade protecting his teammates in the NHL, the Maple Leafs brought up their enforcer for one last NHL game, offering him the send off he deserved. This was a classy move for an enforcer who showed nothing but respect to his opponents. Orr delivered some huge shots in his career, including a vicious TKO against Todd Fedoruk and an unlucky spill with George Parros that left both men down on the ice. In both fights, Orr’s first reaction was to call out for the doctors as he feared for the well-being of his fellow enforcers. This type of maturity, respect and leadership is likely why he was appointed head coach of the NWHL Connecticut Whales in September 2019. Orr played for some historic clubs during his time in the NHL – Bruins, Rangers and Leafs – which gives him a resume that many NHLers wish they could boast. So, it’s on no surprise that the gritty franchise sought out one of the toughest enforcers to ever play the game for their movie. In a 2017 ‘Goon: The Last Enforcers’ cameo, Orr showed off his acting chops and proved he had more than just a tough chin. Orr remains a fan favourite in the Ontario capital and one of the toughest guys to wear the blue and white.