Statue of Bruins legend Orr unveiled

BOSTON -- As much as Monday should have been about Bobby Orr, the man himself made it about everyone else.

On the 40th anniversary of Boston Bruins Hall of Fame defenseman scoring the game-winning goal against the St. Louis Blues in overtime to clinch the 1970 Stanley Cup, the Bruins organization unveiled a bronze statue outside TD Garden to forever commemorate the iconic event in this city's sports history.

Many of Orr's former teammates and coaches, along with local politicians and other Boston sports figures, including the Red Sox's David Ortiz and Tim Wakefield, were on hand for the celebration.

After the statue -- which features Orr sprawled in mid-air after scoring the Cup-clinching goal -- was unveiled, No. 4 took the podium and eloquently spoke to the hundreds who attended the event.

Orr talked about his teammates, friends and family. When he mentioned his parents, he started to get emotional. Lastly, he honored the fans.

"When I arrived here from Parry Sound, Ontario, I really didn't understand what the Bruins meant to the citizens of Boston and all of New England," Orr said. "Neither did I realize how completely our fans would embrace us once we became part of the Bruin family.

Fans stood along Causeway Street with signs and cameras and chanted: "Bob-by! Bob-by! Bob-by!"

"That reaction from all of our wonderful fans and the loyalty and support made playing for the Bruins very, very special," continued Orr. "This specific moment and time we celebrate with this statue is something we can all now nostalgically remember with fondness, together, each time we enter Boston Garden. To all of you, thank you very much from the bottom of my heart. I'm honored. Guys, thank you."

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino delivered some unintentional humor to the event, placing Orr's goal among the "ionic" events in Boston sports history, along with "[Jason] Varitek splitting the uprights." Of course, he was referring to Adam Vinatieri's Super Bowl winning field goals.

"In Boston we had an amazing set of remarkable athletes whose actions of the moment have become ionic in sports," Menino said. "[John] Havlicek stole the ball, [Carlton] Fisk waving the ball fair, [Doug] Flutie launching a Hail Mary pass, Varitek splitting the uprights. Today we honor the most brilliant moment -- Bobby Orr flying through the air. Who could forget that play against St. Louis as the Bruins beat the Blues to bring a Stanley Cup to Boston?"

While the celebration continued, all of the current Bruins were napping in preparation for Monday night's Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Philadelphia Flyers.

"We obviously take a lot of pride in the history of the team, as the city does," Bruins defenseman Mark Stuart said Monday morning. "We'd like to keep that going and he's one of the guys who paved the way for us, especially what he did for the defensive position. He pretty much revolutionized it on his own. The stuff he did with the puck, the goals he scored as a defenseman were ridiculous. The way he skated, it was fun to watch."

Most of the current players weren't even born when Orr scored that famous goal 40 years ago. Head coach Claude Julien was.

"He's been my idol," Julien said of Orr. "When I was growing up it was Bobby Orr. I couldn't play like him, trust me, but I still liked him. He's been an idol for a lot of people. If you get a chance to meet him and spend some time with him, he's such a great gentleman and fun to be around. To see that happening today is great. He's a guy who's an icon and a hero to so many people. You can never get tired watching that winning goal with him flying up in the air."

Current Bruins pugilist Shawn Thornton was disappointed he couldn't make it to the afternoon celebration because his focus was on closing out the Flyers.

"I've been fortunate to meet Bobby a few times and he's a great guy," said Thornton. "Almost everybody I know in Canada has a picture of 'The Goal' and it's a pretty big deal."

Joe McDonald covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.