Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe is dead at the age of 88. Howe passed after a lengthy illness.
The Floral Saskatchewan product began his NHL career in Detroit in 1946 at the age of 18 and his career lasted until 1971 when he retired at 52. He remains the oldest player to ever play in the NHL.
Regina Pats Head Coach and GM John Paddock played with Howe in the NHL and he says what he did as a player was just incredible. “There has been so many great athletes in all of sports. I guess training is better now but for a natural athlete and I’m sure he did some labour early in his career as they had to work but to play to the age of 52 in the highest level in the world, I don’t think there is another accomplishment in sports like that. obviously he was tremendously strong and he had a great mind for the game and created lots of space for himself but it was amazing what he did in his career.”
Howe is the fourth all-time leading scorer with 1850 points, won 4 Stanley Cups in Detroit, won six Hart Trophies as the leagues leading scorer and six Art Ross trophies as league MVP.
Paddock says after watching Howe play growing up, it was surreal to step onto the same ice surface as him in the late 1970’s. “You had to be aware of him because of what he could do to anybody or decide to do to anybody… I think back it was just basically, he wasn’t just another player but he was another player and you would talk about when you sat on the bench and it was just like you were in awe that you were on the same ice as him.”
He still holds records for the most regular season games played (1,767), most consecutive 20-plus goal seasons (22), most regular season points by a right winger (1,850) and Most All-Star game appearances (23).
WHL Commissioner Ron Robison released this statement on Friday as well: “The WHL would like to express our heartfelt condolences to the Howe family and all those ‘Mr. Hockey’ touched throughout the course of his remarkable life,” commented WHL Commissioner Ron Robison. “Gordie was not only one of the greatest players to ever play the game, he was also one of the game’s greatest ambassadors. We were very fortunate to have had Gordie associated with the WHL for many years in an ownership capacity with the Vancouver Giants, and he will continue to be an inspiration for players in our system for generations to come.”