Discovered in Parry Sound, Ont., in 1962 when he was 14, he made his NHL debut with the Bruins four years later. Orr went on to become the greatest offensive defenseman in history, winning two Stanley Cups, three Hart and eight Norris trophies.
At five he played with boys twice his age in his hometown of Brantford, Ont. At eight he scored 105 goals—as a defenseman. By 11 he was already known as the Great Gretzky—and over 21 seasons in the WHA and NHL he never failed to live up to the billing.
In his native Montreal his last name means the best. At 18 in juniors he scored a record 133 goals and 282 points in 70 games. One year later he won the Calder Trophy as the NHL's rookie of the year. His career average of 1.88 points per game is second only to Gretzky's.
As a 16-year-old in Toronto, he stood 6'4" and weighed 220 pounds. Just as impressive as his size and physical play were his mobility and offensive skills. The Next One won a Hart Trophy as league MVP in 1994--95, but injuries and concussions cut short his career.
At 18 he was deemed the face of the new NHL after the league emerged from the 2004--05 lockout, but every move of the center from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, had been followed breathlessly since he was 16, when Gretzky declared him the best since Lemieux.
JAMES DRAKE FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (ORR)
HANK DELESPINASSE STUDIOS FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (GRETZKY)
ANTHONY NESTE FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (LEMIEUX)
JOHN BIEVER FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (LINDROS)
LOU CAPOZZOLA FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (CROSBY)