Gordie stories; Howe always found a way to please people

Mike Brophy
Gordie Howe (Getty Images)

Gordie Howe was the first NHL player that made an impact on my life.

As a member of the Detroit Red Wings, he and his teammates would make an annual pilgrimage to Hamilton to play an exhibition game against the junior Red Wings. Back then junior hockey teams were sponsored by NHL teams so the notion of an NHL team playing an exhibition game in the middle of the season didn’t seem as weird as it would today.

Anyway, I recall going to the Hamilton Forum to see the NHL Red Wings play the OHA Red Wings and I, like everyone else in the barn, couldn’t take my eyes off No. 9. I was not yet 10 years old and Howe was established as the best player in the world. The opportunity to see him play up close and personal, even in a nothing game, was like seeing royalty.

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Johnny Bower on Gordie Howe: ‘He’ll meet his wife up in heaven now’

Gordie Howe and Johnny Bower. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

A turn of events many decades ago, after an exhibition game in Saskatoon, told Johnny Bower exactly who Gordie Howe was.

Bower, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ stalwart goaltender, was leaving the rink, and Howe, star right winger of the Detroit Red Wings, caught up to him. The two were off-season buddies, so Howe wanted to walk and talk with Bower en route to their next destination. Bower, now 91, doesn’t necessarily remember where they were going, but he remembers clear as day what happened next.

“We got about a block away, and all of a sudden, he turns around and goes back,” Bower said. “He said, ‘John, don’t go too far. I’ll be right back. Stay right here.’ ”

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The five greatest accomplishments of Gordie Howe’s remarkable career

Jared Clinton
Gordie Howe, Marty Howe and Mark Howe during their time with the Houston Aeros (B Bennett/Getty Images)

Before Wayne Gretzky entered the NHL, it was Gordie Howe who held all the records that some believed could never be broken. That’s among the many reasons why hockey fans worldwide were saddened to learn of Howe’s passing Friday morning. Howe’s feats during his career are almost innumerable, and it didn’t take him long to find his way into the record book.

He played his first game in the NHL during the 1946-47 season, and little more than a decade later, in 1957-58, Howe had his first NHL record as the game’s all-time leader in assists, surpassing Elmer Lach, who had held the record for six seasons before Howe captured it. That was the first major record Howe took hold of but he would etch his name into the record book with regularity from then on out.

Next up was the points record, and Howe took that out of the Maurice ‘The Rocket’ Richard’s grasp by the 1959-60 campaign. By 1961-62, Howe was the NHL’s all-time leader in games played, and two season later, in 1962-64, Howe would topple Richard again, this time to become the NHL’s goal-scoring king.

But Howe’s accomplishments go beyond statistical achievements. Howe managed feats that had never been achieved before and there are some that will likely never be matched. Some of these marks are statistical and others meaningful in a way numbers can’t measure: Read more

From the archives: Gordie Howe’s debut in The Hockey News

Matt Larkin
HoweDebut

Gordie Howe was a one-hand legend in the game of hockey. If you rhymed off the best, most influential players ever to take the ice, Howe wouldn’t slip past your first four fingers and thumb. He’s on the shortest of short lists. He was the original record-book smasher before Wayne Gretzky came along and, because of Howe’s unrivalled longevity, he still holds many unbeatable marks.

Howe debuted in the NHL in 1946-47, making the jump from the USHL’s Omaha Knights. The Hockey News debuted the following year. It took young Howe a few seasons to find his footing and become a dominant NHLer. So when did THN first notice him and recognize ‘Mr. Hockey’ in its pages?

The fascinating thing about Howe’s immortal moniker: it wasn’t originally his. Howe’s image first appeared in THN March 2, 1949, in the top right corner of a cover collage depicting a “star array of trophy threats”:

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Remembering Gordie Howe, hockey legend and sports icon

Ken Campbell
Gordie Howe

When The Hockey News was putting together its list of the top 50 players of all-time in 1998, Wayne Gretzky was the overwhelming No. 1 choice. When Bobby Orr found out he was at No. 2, he pointed out that he thought Gordie Howe should be ahead of him.

That two of the greatest players in the history of the game – Gretzky and Orr – have Gordie Howe No. 1 on their all-time lists, speaks volumes of Howe’s sustained excellence. No player, ever, did it as well for as long as Gordie Howe, who died today at the age of 88 at his son Murray’s home in Sylvania, Ohio. With advanced dementia and having suffered a recent stroke, Mr. Hockey finally met an opponent he could not overcome with the sheer strength of body and character that he displayed for five decades in the game.

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Rumor Roundup: The latest on several of this summer’s top unrestricted free agents

Steven Stamkos (Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

With the July 1 start of the 2016 NHL unrestricted free agency period less than a month away, speculation is ramping up over possible destinations for several of this summer’s top free-agent stars.

Heading the list, of course, is Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos. The solid performance of the Lightning in the 2016 playoffs without their 26-year-old captain — sidelined for all but one post-season game recovering from blood-clot surgery — raises questions over his future with the Bolts.

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports both sides remain interested in getting a deal done before July 1. He claims Lightning GM Steve Yzerman told Stamkos during their end-of-season interview that re-signing him remains the club’s priority.

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Pavel Datsyuk taking page from Sergei Fedorov’s playbook, but is it the wrong page?

The Hockey News
Pavel Datsyuk (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

By KEITH GAVE

After helping Russia to a bronze medal finish at the World Championship – and presumably negotiating at the same time with some Kontinental Hockey League clubs while he’s under contract for another season with the Detroit Red Wings – Pavel Datsyuk went on vacation.

But before he causes irreparable harm to his legacy in Hockeytown, Datsyuk would be wise to take a moment and put in a call to Sergei Fedorov, who seems to regret his decision to leave Detroit before his time.

Datsyuk plans to meet with Red Wings GM Ken Holland in mid-June, and in all likelihood make official what has seemed like a foregone conclusion for months – that he will leave the NHL to finish his playing career in Russia. SKA Saint Petersburg appears to be his team of choice, though agent Dan Milstein insists no deal has been consummated and his client may still negotiate with other KHL teams.

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Sharks avoid losing prospect Sadowy for nothing, ship him to Red Wings for third-round pick

Jared Clinton
Dylan Sadowy (Dennis Pajot/Getty Images)

The San Jose Sharks had until June 1 to sign prospect Dylan Sadowy. If they didn’t, the 20-year-old winger was set to re-enter the upcoming draft and the Sharks would lose Sadowy, a two-time 40-goal scorer in the OHL, for nothing.

Sharks GM Doug Wilson solved that problem Thursday afternoon, however, by working out a deal with Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland.

It was announced by the Red Wings Thursday afternoon that they have acquired Sadowy from the Sharks in exchange for a third-round pick in the 2017 draft, and, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, Sadowy has signed an entry-level deal with Detroit. That means he won’t be re-entering the draft, and he’s officially a Red Wing. Read more