On June 10, 2016, the hockey world lost a legend when Gordie Howe passed away. let’s celebrate the life, career and contributions to our sport with this tremendous tribute to mr. written hockey shortly after his passing.
today we join sports fans around the world in grieving the loss of mr. hockey, gordie howe. We extend our condolences to his family at his time of grief. he passed away this morning, at the age of 88, surrounded by family at his son murray’s home in ohio, just before 8 a.m. this morning, he has confirmed a source close to the family.
We also want to celebrate the life and career of an extraordinary man, who defined the game of hockey for generations of fans and players. While his passing hurts us today, his legacy comforts us. when he retired from hockey, he was the game’s all-time leader in as many statistical categories; His incredible career was so dynamic that it would inspire a young man from Brantford to do the unthinkable and break some of those records, but Wayne Gretzky never failed to recognize the greatness that came before him, the greatness of Gordie Howe.
enjoy a trip down what is truly the “lane of hockey history”.
the nhl rookie
Born March 31, 1928 in Floral, Saskatchewan as one of nine children, Gordie Howe’s professional hockey career got off to a bad start. Not necessarily by Howe, but by Lester Patrick and the New York Rangers, who told a 14-year-old Howe at their winnipeg tryout camp that he “might as well go home” because he “would never be a hockey player.” “. .” Patrick’s carelessness opened the door for Detroit Red Wings manager Jack Adams, who pounced on the right end. He spent the 1945-46 season with the Ushl’s Omaha Knights, averaging nearly a point per game and earning a salary of $2,500, $1,800 of which he spent installing plumbing in his parents’ home.
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The following season, Howe made his NHL debut, which was modestly advertised in the Detroit newspapers on October 14, 1946:
The standout among the four minor leaguers who will get their first taste of the big leagues here Wednesday is 19-year-old right wing gordon howe. he is a tough checker and has unusual balance.
While admittedly crude, the red wing’s introduction to fans is surprisingly accurate, though there’s little indication he would go on to become the highest-scoring right winger in the game’s history.
howe scored in his debut. he also lost two teeth in that game, one in an elbow. and depending on the source, he got into a couple of fights. That game was the first of 1,687 games he would play for Detroit, an NHL record for a single franchise, as was his 786 goals and 1,809 points.
gordie used to hit home runs with the baseball players at old briggs stadium in detroit. he would hit them right out of the park. — to the arbor
the production line
in the late 1940s, detroit coach tommy ivan had the idea to place veteran sid abel in the center of a line between ted lindsay on the left and howe on the right. Together they rocked the league as the “Production Line,” a name inspired by both their impressive production points and the motor city’s automobile production lines. In 1952 the aging Abel was changed, and a young man named Alex Delvecchio was promoted to Center, and Production Line II was born. together, the two lines would lead the team to four stanley cup championships in a span of six years.
On November 10, 1963 during a game against the Montreal Canadiens, Howe became the NHL’s all-time leading scorer when he scored his 545th goal, surpassing Maurice “Rocket” Richard’s previous mark. Much was made of the rivalry between Howe and Richard, a rivalry likely fueled, at least in part, by the media. even so, the two knew how to trade spikes off the ice:
Richard is a great player. he must be. look at his history. — gordie howe
They say I don’t like howe. is not true. he is a great hockey player. if he had to make one comment about the guy, it would be that he doesn’t seem to go all out every time he’s out there. if he did, there’s no telling what he might do with the logbook. — maurice richard
in the late 1960s, the third all-veteran incarnation of the production line was formed when frank mahovlich was inserted on the left wing along with delvecchio in the center and howe on the right.
these teeth you see here are courtesy of gordie howe. — andy bathgate
Howe’s reputation for toughness was legendary before he had been in the league more than a few seasons. he understood how the league worked as well if not better than anyone:
If you play a little rough, you get respect. and with all due respect, you get a little more space on the ice. — gordie howe
even at the end of his career, he was an imposing force, as Canadians defender bryan watson once testified:
[as a rookie] I went to the corner with howe and tackled him from behind and skidded with the puck. I hadn’t gone far when I heard heavy footsteps behind me, and then felt a stick slide under my arm. then there’s the blade, less than an inch from my nose. it’s howe, and he says, ‘take a look at it, junior.’ I was so scared that I fell.
watson then spent a season in detroit, and remembers watching him score on the great johnny bower, closing the puck into the top corner of the net before wishing bower a merry christmas, a wish that angered bower but he left his teammates with stitches.
Gordie Howe’s unprecedented professional hockey career saw him see ice time in every decade of the 20th century beginning in the 1940s. He was unarguably one of the most physically incredible athletes to ever play professional sports.
howe could do it all on ice. he was the best hockey player of his time. —andy bathgate
during his decades-long career, howe only took part in 22 fights, but most of them involved trading punches with the toughest guys in the league, guys like bill ezinicki, fernie flaman and lou fontinato. it didn’t matter much what kind of game he was, famous for shooting twice in all-star games twenty years apart. Notably, Howe himself scored just two Gordie Howe hat-tricks in his career, earning a goal, an assist and a fight in a single game in 1953 and again in 1954.
He was the only guy with no weakness: he was switch-hitting, he was big, he was tough, he was a wonderful skater, he had maximum anticipation. in his entire career he never missed a step. — frank orr
Although he would play until 1980 (minus two seasons), in 1968 Howe told Sports Illustrated’s Gary Ronberg: “I’ll definitely play until 1970. After that, well, it all depends on how I feel. I used to be strong all the time.” nights, no problem, but now I really have to work at it.” He first retired in 1971 and was immediately inducted into the Hall of Fame.
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- four stanley cups
- six art ross trophies
- six hart commemorative trophies
- career goals: 801 (#2 all-time)
- career assists: 1,049 (#9 all-time)
- career points: 1850 (#3 all-time)
- two avco world trophies (wha championship)
- a gary l. davidson award (which is the most valuable player)
- career goals: 174 (#16 all-time)
- career assists: 334 (#7 all-time)
- career points: 508 (#7 all-time)
- During arguably the toughest, toughest era in professional hockey, Gordie Howe finished in the top 5 scorers in the league for 20 straight seasons, from 1949-50 to 1968-69. this is absolutely unthinkable today, and arguably an untouchable record.
- howe surpassed the 100-point mark only once in his career, going 44-59-103 in his 23rd professional season, when he was 40 years old.
- for 15 consecutive seasons, from 1955-56 to 1969-70, he had at least 40 assists each year, an astounding achievement for any player, but especially a winger.
- Discounting his rookie season, Howe’s least productive pro season saw him put up 15-26-41 points in 80 games. Granted, he was 52 at the time and it was his last professional hockey season.
after two years, he returned to the game with the upstart wha, where he first played with his sons mark and marty, the first inductee to the hall of fame who wrote a book about being his father’s son last year . He often referred to the games he played alongside his sons with the Houston Eros as the most rewarding hockey of his extraordinary career:
[playing with my kids on the wha] brought back my love of the game… people say I made this big comeback and all that. Well, it’s amazing what you can do when you’re happy. — gordie howe
gordie howe – the last years
in 2009, howe lost his wife colleen, affectionately known as mrs. hockey, to a form of dementia known as pick’s disease, and he would spend a significant amount of time thereafter raising money for dementia disease research and awareness. in 2010, mr. hockey became dr. hockey when the university of saskatchewan awarded him a juris doctor degree.
stats & trophies
gordie howe’s list of hockey accomplishments is exhaustive; What follows is just the tip of the iceberg:
national hockey league (26 seasons)
world hockey association (six seasons)
Discussing Gordie Howe’s career can seem like an exercise in hyperbole because many aspects of it are so surprising that they defy experience:
Considering his enormous contributions to the game of hockey over several decades and many generations, on and off the ice, it is hard to accept that such a tough, iconic and important figure in the world of sports and popular culture could never die. And while no man is beyond that fate, Gordie Howe’s legacy cannot be extinguished. he was, he is and always will be the one and only lord. hockey.