When it came time to help write the memoir of one of hockey’s greatest players, Dr. Vern Stenlund’s hardest task was getting the legend to talk about his accomplishments.
Stenlund, a Thunder Bay native, helped Bobby Orr write Orr: My Story, which was released earlier this week.
He said there would be times where Orr would veto certain passages, as the famous Boston Bruin defenceman was worried about sounding boastful.
“The persona he has is very much real, he’s a very humble person. There were a lot of times I would write something down, and he would look at it and go no, I’m not going to say that. It sounds like bragging,” Stenlund recalled.
“I told him, ‘Bobby, it’s not bragging if it’s true.’
The book officially hit shelves on Tuesday and is anticipated to be one of the bestselling memoirs of the year.
A significant example of Orr’s humility is visible in the foreword of the book.
Rather than choosing a hockey celebrity, he selected the junior hockey coach that switched him from a forward to a defenceman, a position he helped revolutionize with his puck-moving and smooth skating.
The importance of the memoir was not lost on Stenlund, who currently works as a tenured University of Windsor associate professor in the faculty of education.
The project took three years to complete, and it is the first official memoir penned by the only player to win the Norris Trophy eight straight times, and Stenlund said it is Orr’s story through and through.
“This is an important memoir, because it is arguably about the greatest player in the history of the game,” Stenlund said.
“Make no mistake about it though, Bobby has edited every word in his book and it’s very much his memoir. My job was simply to try to shape some phrasing.”
With a laugh, Stenlund said he was certain this would be the only memoir written by Orr.
Stenlund is a well-known hockey personality, as he enjoyed an illustrious junior career that had him selected in the second round of the 1976 NHL Entry Draft.
He has also spent nearly 20 years as a coach, including stints with the Windsor Spitfires and the University of Windsor Lancers.
With the Orr story on the shelves, he is working on his next project, one that has an immediate local flavour.
Stenlund is involved in the memoir of Thunder Bay’s Kevin Page, who was appointed the first Parliamentary Budget Officer in 2008.
“I feel that I’m going from one superstar in one profession to one superstar in another profession,” Stenlund described.
“Kevin Page is a national treasure. This book is going to tell his story and the story of all the men and women that worked with him in
Ottawa in a very interesting time in Canadian politics.”
That book is expected to be released in the fall of 2014.
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