When former president and general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Brian Burke, sent Colton Orr down to play in the AHL with the Toronto Marlies last season he did so with tremendous remorse.
That said, Burke knew the game had passed Orr by and that Orr’s skill set was no longer needed in a league that was doing away with the staged fight in favor of embracing a more skilled game.
For many, Orr’s demotion spelled the end of his NHL career. Orr, like many NHL pugilists attempted to re-invent himself in the AHL, but in the end he “was what he was”, registering one goal, no assists and 46 penalty minutes through 26 games with the baby Leafs.
Through 383 NHL contests, Orr has a total of 11 goals, 20 points, 149 shots on goal, minus-34 rating and a grand total of 936 penalty minutes. When you average five minutes a night, 936 penalty minutes is pretty alarming. Then again, when a team employs you to fight, I suppose the PIM’s come with the territory.
In an attempt to bolster the Maple Leafs toughness, head coach Randy Carlyle has elected to dress Orr in all five contests this season. Through five games Orr has registered 15 penalty minutes (which came courtesy of three fighting majors), four hits, one blocked shot, one giveaway and one shot, all while averaging 4:46 of ice-time per night.
While it is all well and good that Orr has been getting into fights, it should be noted that all three fights Orr was involved in looked staged. These type of fights, slow down the game, often lead to injury and are never in reaction to anything going on in the game.
And, contrary to Don Cherry’s belief that Orr actually ignites the passion in his team when he fights, the Maple Leafs 2-3-0 record serves as evidence that Orr has had little influence on the teams’ results, or lack thereof.
Fighters serve little purpose in today’s NHL. When you get right down to it, it appears as if a fighters only purpose is to keep other fighters employed. They do not “police”, they do not intimidate anyone, because ultimately all they do is fight themselves. Rarely do you see an offending player pay the price by being pummeled by an enforcer. There is little retribution for wrong doings in the NHL— someone will fight your battle for you.
So, do the Maple Leafs need a guy like Orr in the lineup? Hardly.
The Maple Leafs are not a dirty team. They also employ a number of players that can do the job Orr does, including Mike Brown, Dion Phaneuf, Mark Fraser and Mike Komisarek.
The point is, Orr’s “skill set” is redundant. He is not needed. He does not make the team any tougher and with Orr playing less than five minutes a game he is not in the lineup enough to influence much of anything.
Now, if Orr was sent out on the ice to bang and crash, he would be effective. But to have Orr in the lineup with the sole purpose of participating in a staged fight? That is going to get old very quickly, don’t you think?
I am sure Orr is a great guy, a veteran presence in the locker room and a stand up player. That said, his time had come last season, and his time has come again to be sent down to the AHL. Sadly, (or maybe not so sadly) the NHL has no room for Orr anymore.
Known as an honest, opinionated and trusted writer, Mark Ritter brings a unique view on the Maple Leafs and the NHL in general. Mark has been writing about hockey for almost ten years and is known for bringing an honest view on the Maple Leafs. You can view more of Mark’s work at www.theslapshot.com
Please follow Mark on Twitter: @theslapshot