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Bobby Orr understands the desire to see hockey return, but he also comprehends the danger of the coronavirus pandemic.
"I don't think there's anything wrong with trying to come back, but to think that you're going to finish the season, have a playoff, and then start next season, I think we have to be really careful," the legendary former defenseman told TSN's James Duthie. "We just cannot come back until the players are safe, the families are safe, anybody connected with those games, around the games, if they do come back, (we have to make sure) that everyone is safe."
The Hockey Hall of Famer, who's celebrating the 50th anniversary of his iconic airborne Stanley Cup-winning goal Sunday, emphasized that the sport's significance pales in comparison to the world's current predicament.
"This is bigger than the game," Orr said. "This is life and death. We have to be real careful and real sure that everyone is prepared, and we can't be putting our players back out on the ice without proper conditioning. Staying at home the way they are now, it’s pretty difficult to stay in hockey skating shape.
"There's more important things than sports," he added. "I’m the biggest hockey fan in the world, and I miss it. I miss it a lot. But we can't be coming back too quickly. Things have to be right for the game to start up (again) and for the players to come back."
The NHL paused its season March 12 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In late April, the league was targeting a July return and hoped to reopen facilities in mid-to-late May, but the latter phase reportedly won't be initiated until a majority of clubs are able to do so.
In early April, Orr wrote a letter thanking workers at Massachusetts General Hospital, calling them the "true heroes."