Legendary hockey writer Frank Orr passed away yesterday at the age of 84. The 1989 recipient of the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Elmer Ferguson Award “in recognition of distinguished members of the newspaper profession whose words have brought honour to journalism and to hockey,” Orr was, by all accounts, an even better person than he was a writer.
The Professional Hockey Writers Association paid tribute to their “No. 3 card holder at the time of his passing, the organization’s second-longest living lifetime member” on Saturday, and the Maple Leafs honored him with a video appreciation that ran during last night’s game:
Remembering longtime sports writer and Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award winner Frank Orr, who covered the Leafs and hockey for six decades.— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) February 14, 2021
Our condolences go out to his family. pic.twitter.com/45hpoTN2ee
Orr left an impression on just about every corner of the hockey world, including here in Washington. To wit, our good friend Glenn Dreyfuss passed along this page from the Caps’ 1979-80 media guide:
That’s... ruff (and pre-Photoshop).
An inside joke that made it into the media guide sounds like the type of thing that would be right up Orr’s alley. As the PHWA noted:
Orr was famous for his encyclopedic knowledge of the finest restaurants in any city on any continent. He was equally remembered for his brilliantly funny one-liners.
“I didn’t know we broke any windows,” was often Orr’s response when big bill arrived at the table. Then he’d wrestle the cheque away from his dining companions.
A few other Orr favourites: “I’m not saying the Leafs are bad, but is f***-up hyphenated?” Or: “I’ve bet on horses smaller than that [Eric] Lindros kid.”
During a particularly conservative Ducks-Red Wings game, Elliott Teaford recalled Orr quipping: “It’s the dump without the chase.”
So rest in peace, Frank Orr. The hockey world lost a legend this week, but one who won’t soon be forgotten.
In the wake of his passing, my Frank Orr tribute echoes those of so many others today. I grew up reading Frank in the Toronto Star and wanting one day to be like Frank Orr or Red Burnett. All I ever wanted to be was a hockey writer/reporter. https://t.co/NOEnSat0jV— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) February 13, 2021
Devastated to that the legendary Frank Orr passed away. Frank was a true mentor and friend. We covered Izvestia together in Moscow in '87, dozens of Stanley Cup finals and shared some of the most costly expense-account meals in the history of the newspaper era. RIP old friend. pic.twitter.com/sPCAOv9GPd— Eric Duhatschek (@eduhatschek) February 13, 2021
Apart from being a legend who covered the ‘72 series, Frank Orr taught the next generation of hockey writers to enjoy the craft.— Mark Spector (@SportsnetSpec) February 14, 2021
To get out on the night between games, spend your per diem and maybe a few dollars more (con’t)
But when you retire, what you’ll remember is that table of scribes during a series in Pittsburgh, after a Grey Cup in Calgary, or a Brier in Winnipeg.— Mark Spector (@SportsnetSpec) February 14, 2021
The people. That’s who matters.
And thank you.
Frank Orr, a hockey sage who provided even more laughs than some of the terrible teams he covered. A big man, a generous man. Will miss him. RIP.— Michael Farber (@MichaelFarber3) February 13, 2021
Such sad news to hear of the passing of Frank Orr. Quick wit and so nice to speak with him. It was always an honour to spend time with a legend. Condolences to his family and friends. https://t.co/u8GQoWTk6b— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) February 13, 2021
1/4 I’m crushed to learn of the passing of Frank Orr, a sportswriting giant literally and figuratively. Frank has forever been a role model of mine for his style, grace and flair, a man who far preferred to help shape the opinion of readers rather than force his own upon them. … pic.twitter.com/2WEyPwBviu— Dave Stubbs (@Dave_Stubbs) February 13, 2021
My first year covering the NHL in 1995-96, I sat next to the great Frank Orr on many nights in the press box at Maple Leaf Gardens. I learned so much from him. And he cracked me up, too. Wicked one-liners. Total legend in our business.— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) February 13, 2021
RIP, Mr. Orr https://t.co/ep3a6EWGEU
Thread: More on my buddy Frank Orr, sweetest guy (with his buddy Jim Kernaghan) on press row, both my friends now departed.— Gare Joyce (@GareJoyceNHL) February 13, 2021
Frank living to age 85, predeceased 30 yrs ago by his hearing. Deaf as a post. Drives were an issue. I had to flash a light for bathroom breaks // cont