Born in Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada, Bobby Orr's ice hockey talents were evident at a very early age. As a 14-year-old he played for the Oshawa Generals in the Ontario Junior A League, competing against mostly 19- and 20-year-olds. National Hockey League rules dictated that he could only join the Boston Bruins as an eighteen-year-old. In his first professional season he won the Calder Memorial Trophy as outstanding rookie and began a turnaround for the perpetually last-place Bruins that culminated on May 10, 1970 when he scored one of the most acrobatic goals in hockey history to give Boston its first Stanley Cup in 29 years.
A defenceman, Bobby Orr revolutionized the game of hockey, creating a new breed of defenceman with his offensive role. His speed, most notably a rapid acceleration, and his open ice artistry electrified fans as he set almost every conceivable record for a defenceman. Most he still holds today. Despite being limited by knee injuries which would later force him to retire early, he dominated the National Hockey League during his career. In a shortened career, he still won the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the league's most outstanding defenceman eight times, more than any other player in NHL history.
He is the only defenseman ever to win the Art Ross Trophy as the league scoring champion, accomplishing this feat twice (1969–70 and 1974–75), and he is also the only defenceman to lead the league in assists, a distinction he held during five seasons. Orr's 139 points in the 1970-1971 season remains a record for NHL defencemen. He won the Hart Trophy as the league's Most Valuable Player three times, from 1969–1970 through 1971–1972. He captured the Norris Trophy as the league's best defenceman a record eight consecutive seasons, from 1967 to 1975. In 1970, he received Sports Illustrated magazine's "Sportsman of the Year" award.
At the end of the 75-76 season, Orr's contract was over and the Boston Bruins needed to renew it. The Bruins offered Orr a lucrative contract, including over 18% ownership in the Bruins organization. Orr's agent, Alan Eagleson, did not disclose this to Orr and told him that the Chicago Blackhawks had a better deal. (Eagleson later was found guilty and served time in prison for numerous failings as an agent.) Orr signed with the Blackhawks for two season before retiring due to knee problems.
In the late 1970s, Bobby Orr was voted the greatest athlete in Boston history in the Boston Globe newspaper's poll of New Englanders, beating out Ted Williams, Bill Russell, Carl Yastrzemski and Bob Cousy.
Forced to retire after more than a dozen knee operations, the mandatory waiting period was waived and in 1979 he was enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame at age 31, the youngest player to be inducted. He has been honored with his name recorded on Canada's Walk of Fame. A museum exists in his honor in his home town of Parry Sound called the Bobby Orr Hall of Fame. In 1979 he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Orr is a notable graduate of Oshawa High School.
- Calder Memorial Trophy - 1967
- NHL Second All-Star Team - 1967
- Played in NHL All-Star Game - 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975
- NHL First All-Star Team - 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975
- James Norris Trophy - 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975
- NHL Plus/Minus leader - 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975
- Art Ross Trophy - 1970, 1975
- Conn Smythe Trophy - 1970, 1972
- Hart Memorial Trophy - 1970, 1971, 1972
- Lester B. Pearson Award - 1975
- Canada Cup Tournament MVP - 1976
- Canada Cup All-Star Team - 1976
- Lester Patrick Trophy - 1979
- Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1979
- His number 4 is retired by the Boston Bruins
- Most points in one NHL season by a defenseman (139; 1970-71)
- Most assists in one NHL season by a defenseman (102; 1970-71)
- Tied for most assists in one NHL game by a defenseman (6; tied with Babe Pratt, Pat Stapleton, Ron Stackhouse, Paul Coffey and Gary Suter)
- Held record for most assists in one NHL season from 1971 to 1981 (102; broken by Wayne Gretzky)
- Held record for most goals in one NHL season by a defenseman from 1971 to 1986 (37 in 1971, broke own record in 1975 with 46; broken in 1986 by Paul Coffey)
- Held record for most points in a game by a defenseman from 1973 to 1977 (7; broken by Tom Bladon)
- Was named to Canada's 1972 Summit Series team, but did not play in a game due to injury
- Played for Team Canada in the 1976 Canada Cup
Bobby Orr is mentioned in the They Might Be Giants song Wicked Little Critta, the fourteenth track off their Mink Car album, and also in a song by The Tragically Hip, "Fireworks" from their 1998 album Phantom Power.