Orr Tried To Play In Game Eight
According to head coach Harry Sinden, there was some thought and probably lots of hope that Bobby Orr could be healthy enough to dress in game 8.
However the idea was quickly nixed. His knee wasn't holding up, plus there was concern about his lack of conditioning. His on ice training of course had been minimal because of the knee injury. And the Soviets had already clearly established they were weeks ahead of even the best conditioned Canadian player in terms of game shape, and even Orr - the greatest player on either team and perhaps ever - would have trouble with that, especially given his bad knee.
There was some thought that perhaps Orr could dress and just be used on the power play. The controversy over the selection of on-ice officials nixed any idea of that. Joseph Kompalla and Rudolph Bata were clearly either incompetent or biased, and Sinden knew Team Canada would not get many power plays. Instead, he knew they would be killing penalties - many of them questionable - much of the night.
In his book "Hockey Showdown" Sinden wrote:
"I thought instead of using him (Orr) full time I might just use him on the power play, but we don't get any power plays from these officials. We've averaged about one a game. I'm not going to dress a guy for minutes' action."
One can only speculate how the series would have been different if a healthy Orr had played all 8 games. Undoubtedly the Russians would have fared well against Canada, and certainly would have easily exceeded Canadian expectations.
As good as Esposito or Henderson or Kharlamov or Mikhailov were, a healthy Orr presumably would have been that much better. He was simply peerless. And his revolutionary offense from the blueline approach to the game would have given the Russians fits, or at least would have freed up more time and space for the forwards while the Russians keyed in on Orr.
Orr did get a chance to play against the Soviets 4 years later in the 1976 Canada Cup. He knew he shouldn't have been playing - his knee wasn't up to it then either. But he also knew he was almost done as a hockey player, and that this Canada Cup would likely be his last great moment. And he badly wanted to play against the Soviets.
Orr, who did play one game against the Soviets back as a junior, was clearly the best player on the ice in the one meeting against Russia - a 3-1 round robin win for Canada. Orr didn't pick up a point, but he controlled the play every time he was on the ice. Orr was chosen as the star of the game for Canada.