Colton Orr is considered to be one of the, if not the, premier pugilists in the league. Even though compared to the huge monster enforcers in the league (see: Derek Boogaard), Orr isn't the biggest guy on the ice. However he is still feared and respected for his ability to throw some nasty haymakers. Recently Orr's place on the team has come into question more often than before. Join me after the jump to see my take on his importance.
Honestly, I'm a huge fan of Orr's. Firstly, he's not an agitator, he isn't one to pull stupid stunts like that moron Avery, but he still gets under the skin of the opposing team. Secondly, even when he's not on the ice I truly believe that other teams are not willing to approach the grey line of dirty plays because they know a fellow teammate may just get a face full of fists from the Sheriff. This allows our top end talent to be less worried about being smacked with a borderline hit. The biggest reason I'm a fan of Orr is because he's actually quite an intelligent hockey player. I'm a big fan of not watching the puck when enjoying a hockey game, and when he's on the ice Orr's feet are almost always moving and his head is on a swivel more often than not. Granted his hands are made of diamonds, but he doesn't give up on plays, especially not in the defensive end. There's been more times than I could remember his ability to ruin the shot of an opposing player in the high slot when all of his teammates have gone into rebound control mode. Oftentimes, it's by diving face first knocking the puck off of the shooter stick from almost five feet away. That kind of dedication and all out play is what Leafs' fans love to see.
Orr may not be a 10 goal scorer or even a 5 goal scorer, but he does crash the net with regularity and makes sure that every minute he does get on the ice is played to its fullest. I can't remember a time where he was considered to be the scapegoat of a game (granted this can also be due to his short playing time), yet people are calling for his benching on a more regular basis. I do believe that players like Caputi and Hanson do need more ice time, but why Orr's position, why not someone who makes more regular mistakes like Mitchell?? Or someone who's been having a seriously rough go of late like Tyler Bozak? I think a young team like ours needs someone to watch who plays all out all the time, who better than someone who grinds as hard as Orr does and has to outwork other players just to see 4 minutes a game. One thing I do know is, every time there's a shot of the bench after a shift Orr has been on the ice, alot of the players around him are smiling and giving him light shoves. If a guy who plays 4 minutes a game does that for his team then I say keep him on the active roster and find someone else to scratch.