Ultimately, this move should not come as much of a surprise. Orr spent more time in the press box / on the sidelines (34 games) than on the ice (5 games), and when he did play he was noticeably lacking the fiestiness to which fans had previously become accustomed.
Perhaps a part of that was his recovery from a concussion sustained midway through last season. Certainly, the presence of Mike Brown and Jay Rosehill — each of whom can hold his own in a fight, and whose respective abilities allow for greater contributions to a checking unit — played a significant role in Orr’s reduction in playing time.
At the time of his signing in 2009, Orr fulfilled two roles for the club: (1) adding toughness and a willingness to drop the gloves to a lineup that had precious little of either, and (2) to play a key role in an ongoing culture change within the locker room. Unfortunately for Orr and players of his ilk, the game has changed significantly over the past two seasons, to the point where there no longer appears to be much of a role for pure enforcer types in the NHL.
Whether this move spells the end of Orr’s NHL career remains to be seen. Hopefully he will be able to catch on with another organization, but with one more season at a $1 million remaining on his contract, he is likely to pass through waivers unclaimed and be assigned to the AHL. At this stage, re-entry waivers (whereby the claiming team would take on half his salary), a buyout, or inclusion as part of a trade would seem to be the more likely scenarios by which he finds another NHL home.
Although it appears Colton Orr may have played his last game for the Maple Leafs, he will not soon be forgotten. For no matter what the future may hold, we will always have this:
And, of course, this: