Mr. Hockey was, plainly put, one of the greatest to ever play the game. He played 26 seasons in the National Hockey League, along with six seasons in the World Hockey Association.
Born in Floral, Saskatchewan, Howe would spend the vast majority of his career with the Detroit Red Wings.
Interestingly, it was the New York Rangers who first spotted a 15-year-old Howe and invited him to training camp in Winnipeg. The Blueshirts wanted to sign him up right away and send him to a Catholic school to iron out his skills. He turned down the offer and returned home.
Red Wings scout Fred Pinkney invited Howe to camp in 1944 and he was signed almost immediately, reporting to the Galt Red Wings. His time was limited, but he was eventually sent up to the Omaha Knights and potted 48 points in just 51 games. He was just 17 years of age at that point.
When he was 18, Howe debuted with the Red Wings. In his first game – October 16, 1946 – his scored his first goal. He debuted wearing #17, but switched to the iconic #9 when Ray Conacher left for the Blackhawks.
Howe built his reputation on scoring goals and getting into fights, which developed into the Gordie Howe Hat Trick: a goal, an assist, a scrap. Perhaps ironically, Howe himself only had two Gordie Howe Hat Tricks in his career.
Howe won four Stanley Cups with the Red Wings and his team placed first overall in seven consecutive seasons. He spent considerable time on a line with Sid Abel and Ted Lindsay. In the 1949-1950 season, the line finished first, second and third overall in NHL scoring.
Somehow, Howe never scored 50 goals in a single season. He ranks fourth overall in points, however, and was only surpassed by Wayne Gretzky in many categories.
Every hockey fan has a Gordie Howe story, a Gordie Howe moment. Everyone recognizes the classic Gordie Howe elbow, knows the rough edge he brought to the game, understands the dominance of his presence.
A week ago, the world lost the Greatest of All Time in boxer Muhammad Ali. And today, the world lost another great and a man who remained Mr. Hockey to the very end of the road.