Colton Orr Call Up The Right Decision By The Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs caught a lot of people off guard today, calling up forward Colton Orr from the Toronto Marlies. This call up comes just in time for him to play in the season finale. As crazy as it may sound, this is a fantastic decision by the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Colton Orr isn’t coming up to score. 

There are three types of offensive players in hockey. There’s the person that when someone asks you to describe one of their goals, you can do it because they score so many. There’s the one that you can’t describe, because they’re pretty infrequent. Lastly, you go back to having an ability to be descriptive, but only because goals are so infrequent that they stand out.

It took me less time to think of a nice Orr goal than it did for most of the core forwards. My mind instantly went to the time that he beat Martin Brodeur on a breakaway.

But no, he’s probably not likely to pull a Boyd Devereaux and score a hat trick on Saturday night. If you ask him where he was ten goals ago, he’ll respond with the New York Rangers. His last point was some time in the 2012/13 season. 

Colton Orr isn’t coming up to fight.

In the fourteen games that Colton Orr has played with the Toronto Marlies this year, do you know how many fights he’s won? Zero. Do you know how many he’s lost? Zero. This is because he hasn’t fought anybody since the preseason, when he easily handled Buffalo’s Mike Weber.

I’m not sure if Orr is too hot on the role that he’s created for himself anymore. Ever since he knocked out his on-ice rival / off-ice friend George Parros in 2013, he’s been looking for fewer fights and proceeding with more caution while in them. There’s less planned punching and more reactionary defence. He’s been come closer to the role of policeman, only to find that there isn’t much need for policing today.

With neither team in a position to cause trouble, the only way he drops the gloves is if he decides he needs to prove himself to someone.

Colton Orr isn’t coming up to win.

There’s no real correlation between fighting and winning; I think anybody who says otherwise is either lying for the sake of keeping something that entertains them in the game, or is stuck in 1962. As mentioned prior, Orr isn’t coming up to score. He can throw the body, but this just means he’s going to be chasing the puck a lot. Against a very good NHL team, the ice will be tilted against him whenever he steps on the playing surface.

Not that I’m expecting the front office to be in pursuit of a “big two points” here. Sure, they might want to see a victory for the sake of pride, but only if Carolina can pick up a win or an overtime loss tonight to lock the Leafs into top-5 pick territory. This is probably not part of a strategy to beat the Habs.

Colton Orr isn’t coming up to in hurt anyone.

After the season he’s had, fueled by the career he had before it, it wouldn’t be right. While many of his detractors will point and laugh at his lack of action, Orr hasn’t actually been a healthy scratch for many of his games this year. He suffered an upper body injury in October, and throughout the year, seemed to get consistently sidelined by what Gord Dineen described as “aches and pains”. When you make a living out of bodyslamming and punching people, it eventually catches up to your body, and there’s a lot of real estate on his frame for it to happen.

I can’t see him being interested in passing that on to another player on Saturday, even if it’s a member of Toronto’s biggest rival.

Colton Orr isn’t coming up because he complained.

One of the things that I’ve come to appreciate about Orr is that he’s been a consummate professional over his time in the Leafs organization. Consider the fact that this year’s assignment was his second exile to the AHL in as many contracts with the team; the first one of which in response to a major concussion. Did you ever hear a public word of discontent from him?

Despite the ability to talk back, the answer was always to the effect of “I need to work my way back up”. Orr put his nose to the the grindstone and integrated himself into his new team, both in 2012 and 2015. He tried to get better at playing the game, he was good to his teammates, and he took everything incredibly seriously. You can’t ask for much more.

Colton Orr is coming up as a thank you.

Look, at the end of the day, we all know that the enforcer role is dying. Without attaching names to faces, good riddance; hockey players can defend themselves in today’s day and age, and there’s no point in wasting roster spots on less talented players so they can punch a face once every few weeks and sit in a penalty box.

But at the same time, you still have to feel for a guy like Orr. He’s a veteran of the game who is seeing this revolution in player personnel observation happen before his eyes, and he’s been directly effected by it. But rather than demand things stay the same, he’s tried to evolve. While I still don’t think he’s a guy I’d want on the team as a hockey player today, he’s less of a liability than he was when he first joined the team in 2009.

Wow. 2009. It’s been six years now. His first game in blue and white came before anybody else’s that remained on the team. That’s pretty crazy to think about, really, and it will all likely come to an end in two and a half months. So might his NHL career; the 33 year old isn’t exactly getting younger, and that combination of age, recent track record, and ability will make it difficult to get another deal. That’s a shame, but at the same time, that’s hockey. 

With all of this considered, it’s good to see him in the lineup on Saturday night. It’s the right decision. We’ll get to see the Leafs and Habs on Hockey Night In Canada. We might even get to be able to cheer for them. But no matter what, we’ll at least see the team give a veteran who paid his dues a proper sendoff.

    • Counter-counter point: This team sucks more. They’re doing this because they want to, not because they have to. It’s one meaningless game and from a purely human aspect it’s cool.

      Besides, the Leafs are too deep in this hole to care about the hockey aspect.

      • It absolutely doesn’t matter from a hockey standpoint, but would rather see them throw meaningless games at someone who’d get a chance to make their NHL debut. Again it really doesn’t matter, but this comes off as honouring a horrible era.

        • CDubs

          it does matter from a hockey perspective though, if you buy into that rationale for the team doing this. if the leafs win against the habs on saturday and carolina drops their last 2 in regulation then we leapfrog them and finish 5th last instead of 4th – orr being in the lineup makes us worse, hence less chance of that (albeit highly unlikely) scenario happening

        • CDubs

          it does matter from a hockey perspective though, if you buy into that rationale for the team doing this. if the leafs win against the habs on saturday and carolina drops their last 2 in regulation then we leapfrog them and finish 5th last instead of 4th – orr being in the lineup makes us worse, hence less chance of that (albeit highly unlikely) scenario happening

  • I hope he scores a goal. he’s scored on the habs before! or at least get an assist! he did it in 2013 hahaha. imagine Orr scores a breakaway goal on price and chases him out of the game. that would be amazing as long as we still lose.

  • silentbob

    I do not think a “thank you” game is something that the Leafs need to do nor is it a fantastic “human” or “personal” thing to do. This reminds me of one of my favorite Mad Men moments

    Don: Thats how this works, I pay you money for ideas
    Peggy: But you never say “thank you”
    Don: That’s what the money is for!

    Orr has made almost 6 million dollars over 6 years working for the Leafs, that’s more then most people will make in their life time. Orr, his family and his children’s family are set up for life at this point (assuming he is smart with his money) The Leafs do not owe him any more then that.

    That being said, there is no harm in playing him for 1 last game (hell, there’d have been no harm playing for 10 last games) and if that’s what Shanahan and co. want to do, there is no real reason to be critical of that decision.

  • CDubs

    Good at hockey or not I love this guy! He was brilliant entertainment in the shortened season. I’ll never forget that call ” And down goes Scott!!!” Good luck Colton a true warrior,

  • acg5151

    Of all the things for Leafs fans to complain about!

    Who cares if the Leafs play Orr because the season is lost. It is the perfect tanking move and they give thanks to a guy who has done as much as he could for the Leafs organization, however little that has been.

    like honestly is giving another game to Zach Sill over Colton Orr any big difference?

  • Benjamin

    Colton Orr was an important part of that shortened season on which we made the playoffs. He also had a really good training camp this season and I think Carlyle would have had him in the starting lineup had he had his way. He brought toughness and hard work ethic to the lineup. I’m really impressed with this move on the part of the management – I didn’t think they had it in them to do something nice for a player that doesn’t fit the Corsi-obssessed mould. Orr’s at this point the longest serving Leaf I think. A true warrior. I just love him and I always did. You guys should be ashamed of dumping on him so much over the years. At times on this and other stats-inclined blogs it appeared like he alone was the source of all Leafs problems. That was never the case – Colton Orr played his role well. He was a great Leaf.

  • Benjamin

    The counter-counter point guy has it right. This is about an organization starting to reclaim it’s rightful dignified position. This is one last moment for a fine man, a loyal Saskatchewan warrior. and that counts. See you all glues to the lottery, is it confirmed to be televised 630 next Sat??? I don’t get the league embarrassment over it. Show it, promote it! It’s going to change someone’s ( ours ) franchise. Stay true blue and white fans, it’ll make it all the sweeter….

  • silentbob

    are we really arguing about whether colton orr should have been recalled? we’re 27th out of 30 teams in the league. who even cares at this point. his call up is the least worst thing of 2015. it’s not like we’re going to the playoffs. colton orr is done in hockey. let him have one last game as a thank you for defending his teammates and doing what he was told to do.