Gordie Howe is undeniably the greatest ice hockey player ever. Known as “Mr. Hockey,” his incredible NHL career spanned five decades and 26 seasons. Not only did he define the game of hockey, but he made enormous contributions both on and off the ice. His accomplishments in the world of hockey are a tribute to his lasting legacy.
‘Mr. Hockey’ aka Gordie Howe
Born in 1928 in Saskatchewan, Canada, Howe was a natural on the ice. At the age of 14, he tried out for the New York Rangers. Coach Lester Patrick told the Hall of Famer that he “might as well go home” because he’d “never be a hockey player.” Patrick’s infamous oversight gave Detroit Red Wings Manager, Jack Adams, the chance to grab the young right wing phenom.
In 1946, “Mr. Hockey” debuted in the National Hockey League at 18 years of age. He went on to play 25 consecutive seasons for the Detroit Red Wings and became one of the most dominant ice hockey players in the history of the NHL.
Howe played pro hockey in his teens, 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s. He is the only player to play pro ice hockey throughout five decades, 1940-80. In the late ’90s, the Detroit Vipers signed Howe to a one-day contract, at the age of 69, so he could be the only guy to ever play in the NHL for six decades. No one else can and probably ever will hold bragging rights to that claim.
The ‘Howe Hat Trick’
Howe developed a reputation for fighting and could throw an elbow like the best of them, as the Hockey Writers reports. In his first game with the Red Wings, Howe actually lost two teeth in one of two on-ice fights. The defenseman exchanged blows with the hardest-hitting guys in the league.
Howe is known for throwing down in two NHL All-Star games that occurred twenty years apart. Players strived to achieve the “Howe Hat Trick,” which consisted of a goal, an assist, and a fight in a single game. Interestingly enough, Howe only achieved this feat twice in his career, but his legend lived on as players paid homage to his greatness.
Gordie Howe’s insane NHL career
“Mr. Hockey” was the highest scoring right wing in the history of pro hockey. Howe played in 1,687 NHL games for the Red Wings, scoring a total of 786 goals and 1,809 points. He holds the record for the most games played in a single franchise. He helped the Red Wings win four Stanley Cup championships and personally has won six Hart and six Art Ross trophies.
The 23-time NHL All-Star has an award named after him in the WHA and earned the first NHL Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. He became “Dr. Hockey” in 2010 after the University of Saskatchewan awarded him an honorary degree. According to ESPN, Howe is considered “third on the list of top 100 NHL players of all time, behind Bobby Orr and Wayne Gretzky.”
After 25 years in the NHL, “Mr. Hockey” retired in 1971 for the first time, according to Toronto News. Unable to stay away from the ice, Howe returned two years later to play in the World Hockey Association with his two sons. He became the only player to ever play professional hockey on the same team as his children.
Howe ended his career for good in 1980 at the age of 51. Ironically his son Mark provided the assist for Howe’s final NHL goal. “Mr. Hockey” left professional hockey holding the record for 801 goals, 1,049 assists, and 1,850 points. These records have since been broken by Gretzky. Howe still holds the record for playing in 1,767 regular-season games.
Is Mr. Hockey still alive?
Howe’s wife, Colleen, died in 2009 from complications with dementia. After her death, Howe spent countless hours raising money for research, bringing awareness to the disease. Then, in 2012, he was diagnosed with dementia. According to the NHL, he suffered several strokes in 2014. Howe died on June 10, 2016, according to NHL.com, surrounded by his family at his son’s home in Ohio. He was 88.
“Mr. Hockey” had an estimated net worth of $10 million at the time of his death, reports Celebrity Net Worth. In August 2016, friends and family gathered at the SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon to pay tribute to the greatest hockey player that ever lived. The ashes of Howe and his wife were interred beneath a bronze statue outside the arena. The city declared the event, “Thank You, Mr. Hockey” day.