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City of Toronto, Walk of Fame face off over who should fix Gordie Howe's star

Mr. Hockey's star has a sizeable crack in it — and his family would like it fixed. Legendary hockey star Gordie Howe's plaque on Canada's Walk of Fame in Toronto's theatre district has a crack running above the left side bottom corner. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Pat Hewitt

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Mr. Hockey's star has a sizeable crack in it — and his family would like it fixed. Legendary hockey star Gordie Howe's plaque on Canada's Walk of Fame in Toronto's theatre district has a crack running above the left side bottom corner. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Pat Hewitt

TORONTO - Canada's Walk of Fame and the City of Toronto are facing off over who should fix Gordie Howe's star on the sidewalk of the city's theatre district.

Mr. Hockey's red granite plaque has a large crack on the bottom left corner and chips out of it. His family's goal is to get it repaired.

But the city says it's not responsible for fixing Howe's battered star—despite what the Walk of Fame's president says.

City inspector Edison Alexander checked out damaged plaques belonging to the former Detroit Red Wings right winger and other stars such as William Shatner and Rush on Tuesday.

"The granite stones do have some stress lines and chipped corners at some locations," Alexander said in an email to The Canadian Press.

He said the centres of the square stones—which feature a stylized Maple Leaf, the celebrity's name and an engraved signature—are in fine condition.

Rob Berry, the city manager who approves sidewalk repairs, said it doesn't appear the city is recommending the plaques be replaced.

"This is really something that Canada's Walk of Fame organization has to make the city aware of," said Berry.

He said the city installs the plaques, but the Walk of Fame owns them and is responsible for requesting and making repairs under its contract with the city.

Now that The Canadian Press has brought the damage to the city's attention, Berry said he would speak to the Walk of Fame about the issue.

The damage is more of an esthetic issue and doesn't pose a tripping hazard for the public, he added.

Peter Soumalias, president and CEO of Canada's Walk of Fame, had told The Canadian Press that the city is responsible for maintaining the plaques and he thought they would be repaired.

"In terms of the regular maintenance and fixing these cracks, the city looks at it and they do get to it," Soumalias said Monday. "They do fix them as part of their sidewalk maintenance program."

He said the stars' signatures are kept on file, so replacement plaques can be engraved without celebrities trekking back to Toronto.

Soumalias was not available Tuesday afternoon to discuss the disagreement about who is responsible for fixing the chipped plaques, or whether the Walk of Fame would get them replaced.

Howe's son told The Canadian Press in an email he was sure the hockey legend was unaware the stone was damaged.

"I'm sure he and the rest of the Howe family would like to see the plaque fixed," Marty Howe said Monday.

The Saskatchewan-born Howe, a four-time Stanley Cup winner who also played for the Hartford Whalers, was inducted into the Walk of Fame in 2000.

The plaque honouring Shatner—best known for his role as Capt. Kirk on TV's "Star Trek"—looks like something has gnawed through part of the stone.

Other damaged plaques include those for actor Leslie Nielsen, known for "The Naked Gun" series of films, former Montreal Canadiens centre Jean Beliveau and "SNL" creator Lorne Michaels.

Plaques belonging to the late contralto Maureen Forrester, television comedians The Royal Canadian Air Farce and director David Cronenberg are also chipped.

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