Darrell Bennett of Happy Valley-Goose Bay got the chance to meet Bobby Orr through a simple request to get some hockey sticks signed. — Submitted photo
Lunching with Bobby Orr was not something Darrell Bennett had planned or anticipated.
In fact, all the Happy Valley-Goose Bay man had wanted was to mail two hockey sticks to Orr and to have them autographed for him and his brother, Dwayne. Unfortunately, Dwayne died two years ago.
“They’re not just sticks that I picked up or anything — they’re original sticks that me and my brother used,” he explained. “We’ve had them since we were kids.”
Bennett has been a die-hard Boston Bruins fan all his life and Orr has long been one of his favourite players.
“He was always the best. He was a hard man to beat,” Bennett said.
So how did that simple request turn into a personal lunch date with the hockey legend?
Everything began falling into place more than six months ago, when Bennett was telling a friend how hard it was trying to get in touch with “No. 4.”
“I’ve been trying to get a hold of him for a long time. He’s not an easy man to track down, you know,” said Bennett.
The friend suggested going through General Motors (GM) to track down Orr, since the Hall of Fame defenceman is the spokesman for the automaker’s Safe and Fun Hockey program.
So Bennett contacted Labrador Motors, the GM dealership in Goose Bay.
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He then talked to several people associated with GM until, finally, he was put in touch with a man named Harold who is involved with Safe and Fun Hockey.
Harold gave Bennett an address where he could mail the sticks. He thought his Bobby Orr experience would be complete after the sticks were signed, but he soon got a big surprise.
“(Harold) called me back the next day after telling Bobby the story … and he said, ‘I got a better one for you. Bobby would like to have lunch with you in Moncton on Aug. 7,’” recalled Bennett.
“I said to myself, ‘Is this real?’”
The lunch meeting took place at a Moncton golf resort, where Orr was making a charitable appearance.
Orr approached Bennett in the lobby and greeted him as if they were old buddies.
“He’s just a super guy — a real gentleman,” said Bennett. “He made me feel like I knew him forever. He’s just got that vibe about him. As soon as he saw me in the lobby waiting, he came over and shook my hand. He knew who he was looking for.”
He chatted with Orr and a few of the former player’s friends for a couple of hours.
Bennett told Orr, who has never been to Labrador, about the Big Land and what it was like living there. The rest of the dinner was spent talking about life in general. Little time was spent talking about hockey or Orr’s amazing hockey career.
And before everything was said and done, Bennett got the sticks signed.
It’s an experience he won’t soon forget.
“It was something (on) my bucket list,” he said. “I got it done and it was awesome.”