i think free pass is the wrong way of looking at it. the way i see it (and maybe value vs. "best," as you say, is a nice way to put it) the distinction between mario and orr's injury problems is that orr's career ended early. but in general he was very healthy for his entire peak. mario, on the other hand, had a ridiculous nine year peak, but he only played in 71% of the games. (in his six year peak, orr played in 93% of his games.) (sidenote: over their two peaks, they played almost an identical amount of games: mario played 454, orr played 447; but for orr, one was a 76 game schedule, four were 78 games, and one was 80 games, whereas for mario five were 80 game schedules, two were 84, one was 82, and the 48 game lockout season he missed completely. all to say, if you normalize their seasons to an 80 game schedule orr probably winds up playing a few more games than mario did over their respective peaks, though this is just small beans in the grand scheme.) which is to say, you can count on peak bobby orr being there for you. you can't necessarily count on peak mario to be there for you. here's an accounting of mario's nine season peak. on accomplishments, he has five art ross trophies, three retro rockets, three hart trophies, two cups, two conn smythes. so it's hard to complain. but it also contains three seasons that he wasn't really able to help his team. 1988 season (mostly full) 1989 season (mostly full) 1990 season up to mid-february his team was .500 and on pace for the #3 seed in his division when he got hurt; they finished the season out of the playoffs 1991 season starting at the end of january unlike the previous year, his team was much better so him being out of the lineup wasn't the difference between making/not making the playoffs; that's what adding three hall of famers in the offseason, plus the breakthrough of another hall of famer as a top 5 scorer, plus the addition of two more hall of famers at the deadline, will do for you. 1992 season up to the beginning of january, picking up again near the end of january, taking another break for the entire first half of february, taking another break for the second half of march, and again for half of april (five playoff games) luckily, ron francis, jagr, tocchet, and stevens carried the mail and after losing the first game without mario rattled off four straight wins, knocking off the presidents trophy winners led by the hart and norris winners, before he came back 1993 season up to the beginning of january picking up again at the beginning of march no visibly adverse effect on the team, though admittedly they did lose in the second round in one of the largest upsets in NHL history 1994 season up to the beginning of november, picking up again in february barely played 1995 (missed the entire season) 1996 season (mostly full) so who would you want? the bobby orr that has one major injury (missing 15 games) over a six year peak, or the mario who over a five year stretch within an eight year peak (1990-'95) you weren't sure was going to miss a major chunk of the season, including possibly playoffs?