NHL Legend Gordie Howe Passes Away at 88
Just halfway through this 2016 calendar year, we have seen legends being taken away from us left and right, most recently that of boxing legend and international role model Muhammad Ali. Today yet another legend has entered that list, most importantly from the hockey community.
Gordie Howe, otherwise known as “Mr. Hockey”, passed away on Friday at the age of 88. He held innumerable NHL records, such as most games played and most games with one team. He was the only NHL player who’s career spanned five decades. In 26 seasons, he played 1,767 games, 1687 of them with the Detroit Red Wings.
Howe’s 801 goals were the most in NHL history until Wayne Gretzky passed him in 1994. In his long NHL career, he finished with 1,850 points, was the first player to skate in 1,500 games and remains the oldest player to skate in an NHL game (52 years, 11 days). No one else in League history has ever played past the age of 48.
He finished top-5 in scoring for 20 straight seasons, helped lead the Red Wings to seven straight regular-season championships (1948-49 to 1954-55), was a member of four Stanley Cup winning teams, won the Hart Trophy as the League’s MVP six times, the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s top scorer six times, and was given the NHL’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.
Howe wracked up the penalties, finishing with 1,685 penalty minutes in his entire NHL career. In the modern NHL, there exists the Gordie Howe Hat Trick — a goal, assist, and a fight. Howe only had two of those in his career.
He played his final NHL season in 1979-80 with the Hartford Whalers, netting 15 goals and 41 points.
It’s also worth mentioning that Wayne Gretzky idolized Howe heavily, wearing no. 99 as a tribute to no. 9.
Gordie Howe was born on March 28, 1928 in Floral, Saskatchewan, as one of nine children. He moved to Saskatoon shortly after his birth. He suffered from dyslexia early, as well as a bone condition that had doctors working to prevent his spine from curving.
Over the years his passion for hockey was recognized throughout the hockey community, and he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972.
Howe had a total of two retirements: one in 1970-71 due to a chronic wrist issue, and the second (and final one) in 1979-80.
If there was anyone who was more influential in his life and playing career, it was his wife Colleen Howe. The two met in a bowling alley in 1950 and were married three years later. Colleen became the first female agent in League history, representing Howe and his three sons of whom he would play with in his final season. Colleen passed away in 2009 at 76 from Pick’s disease.
Even post-career, Gordie Howe was active in the hockey community, participating in numerous charities, most notably the Howe Foundation, founded by Colleen in 1993.
Howe’s presence left a permanent mark in the hockey community, both amazing and inspiring those who watched him. His passion for the sport knew no limits, and he is embraced by everyone in hockey especially those in Detroit. He truly was and always will be “Mr. Hockey”.
Rest in Peace, Gordie Howe.
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