Eddie ‘Downtown’ Johnston’s perfect gift to an 18-year-old Bobby Orr makes us laugh out loud

Bobby Orr was just special, and all of Boston knew it before he had even made his NHL debut.

He was the most talked-about thing during the Bruins’ training camp 1966. Just 18 years old, he showed why he was so hyped up.

Orr could do everything. He skated better than anyone else and could do things few others could.

And he was a defenseman, an offensively skilled one. In those days, that was rare. But he was still a kid in a new city and country, all by himself. But Bobby Orr’s father, Doug, loved Eddie Johnston.

The legendary goalie and Bobby Orr had become friends during camp, and the Orr family, just like all of Boston, loved him.

”My dad really, really loved him. And Eddie would come to Parry Sound and spend time with my family. He was a lot older than me, but it didn’t matter. We were friends from the very beginning,” Bobby Orr told The Athletic.

BOSTON, MA – JULY 26: (bottom row from left to right) 3ICE Deputy Commissioner Eddie Johnston, Bobby Orr who won two Stanley Cup championships with the Boston Bruins as a teammate of Eddie Johnston, and 3ICE CEO E.J. Johnston watch 3ICE week 5 games from a suite on July 26, 2023, at Agganis Arena in Boston, MA. (Photo by Erica Denhoff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Orr family wanted Bobby to live with Eddie Johnston, but there were doubts—from Eddie himself. He was nicknamed ’Downtown’ because he liked going downtown at night.

He went to bars and picked on girls. And he didn’t change that nickname because of Orr suddenly being around.

“Trust me, he earned that nickname of his,” Orr said. “I don’t really know how much my dad knew about that. Eddie was always wearing a black suit, a white shirt and a white tie. He was that guy. And my God could he have fun.”

Canadian professional hockey player Ed Johnston, goalie for the Boston Bruins, comes out of the net to block a shot from Henri Richard of the Montreal Canadiens during a game at Boston garden, Boston, February 10, 1966. The Bruins won 2-0. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)

But Eddie had a plan to include Orr, who was too young to drink. The two would go out for dinner on off nights, and then Bobby dropped Eddie off at a bar.

Bobby would then do something else—watch a movie, for example—and when Bobby was done, he picked Eddie up, and they’d go home. That happened so often that Orr even got a very special present from Eddie Johnston: A chauffeur hat.

“Unfortunately I don’t have it anymore,” Orr said. “But I would put it on, and the guys thought it was pretty funny back then. Eddie more than anyone. It always amused him.”

The two of them became close friends and still are, by the way.

“It’s been so many years, and it’s been a treat,” Orr said. “He’s my dearest friend.”

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