Gordie Howe passed away on Friday, leaving us with an incredible legacy. Here are seven great memories from Mr. Hockey.
Most of you reading this never got to see Gordie Howe at his peak. He retired from the NHL (the first time) in 1971 and won his last Hart Trophy in 1963. Those of you that are too young to remember his playing days are left with a few grainy video highlights and his stat sheet.
But if you ask two of the greatest players to ever play, Wayne Gretzky and Bobby Orr, and they’ll tell you.
Gretzky has called him “the greatest player ever”. Orr called him “the best that ever played”.
Howe also produced two sons that made the NHL, Mark and Marty. Mark Howe was eventually inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Not many people can say they have a hockey term named after them.
Getting a goal, an assist, and a fight in the same game will forever be known as the ‘Gordie Howe Hat Trick’. Despite Howe’s legendary skill and toughness, ironically he only completed a Gordie Howe Hat Trick twice in his illustrious career.
Another accomplishment unique to Howe is that he got to play pro hockey on the same team as two of his sons.
Howe came out of retirement at the age of 45 to play with his sons Mark and Marty with the Houston Aeros of the WHA. He wasn’t just a passenger either, as Gordie led his team in scoring with 100 points.
When the WHA merged with the NHL in 1979, Gordie and his sons went with it. Gordie, Mark, and Marty each suited up for the Hartford Whalers during their inaugural NHL season.
Howe still holds the NHL record for games played, which is extra impressive when you take into account the 419 games he played in the WHA. Howe played until he was 52, and he could have probably played longer than that.
He scored 15 goals and appeared in every game during his last NHL season with Hartford in 1979-80.
Perhaps the most unbreakable of all of Howe’s records is his streak of 20-straight seasons in which he finished in the top-5 in NHL scoring. That’s an incredible mark that isn’t likely to ever be broken.
Howe’s career was not a story of a player trying to hang on. Rather, it was a story of sustained greatness. He last scored 100 points in an NHL season at age 41. He retired from the NHL (the first time) after finishing third on the Red Wings in scoring with 52 points in 63 games.
Howe won six Hart Trophies as league MVP and six Art Ross Trophies as league scoring leader. Only Wayne Gretzky has more. He also won four Stanley Cups with Detroit and two Avco Cups with Houston.
As great as Gordie Howe was as a hockey player, everyone that speaks about him says that he was an even better person.
“It’s a sad day for everyone,” Gretzky told TSN on Friday. “From my point of view, I had so many great memories. Just being around him and getting to know him. A ten-year-old child that gets to meet his idol. He was nicer, better, and bigger than I could ever imagine. From my point of view, I picked the right idol. He was the greatest player that ever lived, and happened to be maybe the nicest athlete that I ever met. And I met a lot nice ones, but he might have been the nicest.”
“I feel very honoured that I was his friend.”