Back in his day, Frank Orr was as large in his field as Bobby Orr was in his. No, they weren’t related.
Frank Orr, who died Saturday at 84, was a hockey writer with the Toronto Star when I met him. It was at the 1991 IIHF World Junior Championship that was held in Saskatchewan. I was the Regina Leader-Post’s sports editor, and spent most of the tournament in Saskatoon.
By that time, Orr was a legendary hockey writer; I was a scribbler from Lynn Lake, Man., who was 20 years into his career. Within an hour of meeting Orr, it was like we were best buddies and had been for a long time.
That is how personable he was. He was a master of the one-liner and had travelled extensively — so what if most of it was on expense account — so had tasted the food in many tremendous eateries. Now here he was in Saskatoon, where the weather was miserably cold, and he was loving every minute of it. Well, almost every minute of it . . .
On Dec. 30, Orr and three others drove to Regina to watch Canada play Sweden, choosing to return to Saskatoon after the game. About 30 minutes outside Saskatoon, a red light lit up the dash of their rental car. They limped into the city, finding out later that the PCV valve had frozen open and the car’s oil had blown out all over the engine compartment.
Later, Orr admitted that he had broken out in a cold sweat at the thought of meeting his maker on the frozen prairie.
“I always thought it would end with someone’s husband chasing me down a street,” he said with a laugh.
Sleep well, old friend.
Mark Zwolinski of The Star has more on Frank Orr right here.
ICYMI, the Edmonton Football Team has a shortlist of seven possibles for its new nickname — Elk, Evergreens, Evergolds, Eclipse, Elkhounds, Eagles and Elements all are in the chase. . . . We are left to wonder what happened to Editors, Elaters, Elephants, Ernies, Eroughriders, Eskers. . . . Having lived in the north where there are eskers, I would be inclined to lean that way. . . . Edmonton Eskers. Yes!
Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “If the Lord’s Prayer can be inscribed on the head of a pin, engravers can certainly fit the full name of Tampa Bay Bucs run-stuffer Vita Vea — Tevita Tuli’aki’ono Tuipulotu Mosese Va’hae Fehoko Faletau Vea — onto a Super Bowl ring, right?”
Perry, again: “Players for the Western Hockey League’s Red Deer Rebels will live at the team’s rink in Alberta this season to reduce the COVID-19 risk. ‘Fine with us,’ said every stay-at-home defenceman.”
Congrats to Gilles Courteau, the commissioner of the QMJHL, who celebrated his 35th anniversary in office on Saturday. Stephane Leroux of RDS points out that Courteau spent 15 years as president and now has been commissioner for 20 years. Leroux also points out that Courteau was hired on an interim basis in 1986.
Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle:
“The NFL patted itself on the back with a spot bragging that the league is donating $250 million ‘to combat systemic racism.’ And that doesn’t even count the millions it paid to Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid for keeping them unemployed.
“If you don’t think it’s racism that’s keeping Kaepernick out of The League, tell me what you think would have happened to (Tom) Brady had he taken a knee in protest.
“Kaepernick and Reid sat out this season, but Tyreek Hill and Antonio Brown suited up and were covered in glory in the National Football League of Second Chances.
“And the 49ers announced they have re-signed Josh Rosen, whose resume now includes this: 1,000th washed-up quarterback to sign an NFL contract since Kaepernick ‘retired’.”
Here’s Ostler, again: “It’s sad to see Pebble Beach get squeezed out of golf relevance by Saudi Arabia and Los Angeles. Pebble’s famed annual AT&T National Pro-Am got snubbed by the world’s top golfers, partly because they want a rest between last week’s big-payoff Saudi International and next week’s Genesis Invitational in L.A. The AT&T has become the great little family diner you speed past on your way from IHOP to McDonald’s.”
A digital subscription to the San Francisco Chronicle is well worth it to read the likes of Ostler, Ann Killion, Eric Branch, Bruce Jenkins et al. . . . And with pitchers and catchers about to report, you may want to subscribe to the Washington Post just for the musings of Thomas Boswell.
When Major League Baseball revealed the details of the shakeup heard ’round the minor leagues, the Pacific Coast League was nowhere to be found. The league that sent so many players to the big leagues — like Joe DiMaggio and Willie McCovey — now is Triple-A West. . . . The California League is gone, too. It’s Low-A West. . . . Here’s hoping saner heads will prevail and that when it does there aren’t corporate names involved. . . . With MLB’s reorganization now complete, there are 120 minor-league teams left. Forty others are nowhere to be seen.
With all that we’ve been through over the past year, who had ‘Earthquake strikes near Banff’ on their 2020-21 Bingo card?
Someone figured out that starter Trevor Bauer’s deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers will pay him somewhere around $10,000 per pitch. Keep in mind, too, that he only performs every fifth day. Can you imagine being a carpenter and getting paid $10,000 for every nail you hammered or every screw you turned? No, neither can I.
It could be that the best feud in hockey features Brian Burke, the new president of hockey operations with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and columnist Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun. . . . This goes back a few years and is far from being over. . . . In his book that came out last fall, Burke sniped at Simmons a time or three. . . . On Sunday, in his weekly notes column, Simmons wondered about Burke’s recent hockey accomplishments, or lack of same:
“Which makes the hiring of Burke in Pittsburgh as president of hockey operations more than a little surprising, although you won’t hear anything like that from all his media pals who laugh along with every word he speaks. It is the hiring of yesterday’s man, who won in Anaheim more than a decade ago, who made the Sedin deals (his signature NHL moves) 22 years ago. What has Burke done lately in hockey, except write a best-selling book and become valued entertainment in between periods? Truth is, it’s a lot of sound and fury, in reality, signifying nothing.”
The puck now is in Burke’s end of the ice.
JUST NOTES: You watch the Daytona 500 and you just know the last lap is going to turn into a demolition derby. . . . Had to chuckle at the WHL fan on social media last week who was debating with a guy named Brent Parker about the role of tutors with teams. Don’t think the fan realized that Parker is a former general manager of the Regina Pats. . . . If you’re wondering how we’re doing over here, well, there aren’t any bodies buried in the back yard so I guess that means we’re still getting along. . . . The St. Louis Blues and Arizona Coyotes will meet today for a seventh straight time. Tell me again how this NHL season won’t warrant an asterisk when it’s all over. . . . On the subject of this NHL season, if you watch enough games it really becomes apparent just how much emotion and passion fans bring to the games. Yes, the players are trying hard, but it just isn’t the same, is it?