As former NHL defenceman Mark Fraser watched the assault on democracy unfold in the U.S. Capitol Wednesday afternoon – an assault that was both incited and enabled by a sitting President – his mind could not help but go back to his childhood hero. The first book report Mark Fraser ever did in school was on Jackie Robinson. The second was on Bobby Orr.
And until two months ago when Orr took a full-page ad out in the New Hampshire Union Leader endorsing Trump in his bid for a second term, Fraser also had a personally signed photo of Orr scoring his iconic Stanley Cup-winning goal in 1970 on the wall in his home in Ottawa. But he took that photo down Oct. 30, the day Orr sided with Trump and said, “That’s the kind of teammate I want.”
“I took it down because it hurt,” Fraser told TheHockeyNews.com. “After seeing how this President encouraged violence on peaceful protesters with tear gas so he could get a photo op, it just hurt to see my hero endorse that. You can support (Trump) or his party for any legitimate reason you want, obviously, but you can’t possibly say with any integrity that separating fact from fiction is what attracts you to Donald Trump. And that’s what hurts. It’s just really disheartening and discouraging from someone whom I’ve spent a lot of my life admiring.”
But as he watched from afar as Washington descended into a state of anarchy and chaos, Fraser went one step further. He was still so upset at Orr’s endorsement that he sent out the following Tweet:
Mark Fraser will never be compared to Bobby Orr. One was a two-time Stanley Cup winner and Hall of Famer with eight Norris Trophies, three Hart Trophies, two Art Ross and Conn Smythe Trophies and a Calder Trophy and will always be remembered as one of the greatest players to ever play the game. (In fact, there’s a good contingent that would have him No. 1 on the NHL’s all-time list.) The other was a journeyman who fought his way through the minors and found a way to play 219 NHL games before finishing his career in Europe. But Fraser and Orr are part of the same brotherhood and their voices both deserve to be heard.
Fraser, a black man who is devoting his time to diversity and inclusion issues around the game, wonders why Orr can’t now come out and repudiate both the domestic terrorists who stormed the Capitol and the Gaslighter-in-Chief whose words and actions, not just yesterday, but for the past four years, set the stage for it to happen. “Republicans were speaking out against the President last night,” Fraser said, “and I thought, if their views can change, it made me wonder if a person like Bobby Orr was watching that and wondering to himself, ‘Is this the type of man I still want to endorse, because it was only two months ago that I did.’ ”
And that is exactly the opportunity Bobby Orr has right now. To suggest that Orr would ever endorse any of the ugliness that transpired in Washington would be ridiculous. But it’s not ridiculous to suggest that Orr and others who openly supported this man are on the wrong side of history today. More than 40 years after his retirement, Orr remains an icon in the game and a voice of hockey. And a lot of the people who still admire him likely supported Trump. Orr was part of the problem when he endorsed Trump, but now he can be part of the solution by coming out as openly and vociferously now to repudiate not only the violence caused in Trump’s name, but the man who encouraged it to happen.
Yesterday was not a good day for Donald Trump. And judging by some of the comments on social media, it likely wasn’t a good day for Bobby Orr, either. (For the record, I texted the number I have for Orr seeking comment, but have not heard back.) The condemnation of Orr two months ago was swift and dramatic. I have a friend by the name of Jeff Hale who, until Oct. 30, adored Orr. In 1971, he got a picture with Orr at a golf tournament that is one of his most prized possessions. But since the Trump endorsement, he has vowed to disassociate himself with the icon and is in the process of selling off all his Orr memorabilia.
It’s time for Orr to step up and to speak out against Trump and his sycophants just as forcefully as he did two months ago. That’s the kind of teammate Mark Fraser and a lot of other people are looking for right now.