Howe turning 80

Mr. Hockey is turning 80.

Gordie Howe waves to the crowd during an 80th birthday celebration at Joe Louis Arena before the Detroit Red Wings hosed the Nashville Predators on Sunday.

Mr. Hockey is turning 80.

Gordie Howe, a six-time NHL scoring champion who played 32 professional seasons, will celebrate his 80th birthday Monday surrounded by family and friends in Detroit.

It is another milestone in a lifetime full of them for the native of Floral, Sask., near Saskatoon, who was born March 31, 1928.

The Hall of Famer began his NHL career with Detroit when he was 18 in 1946-’47 and went on to play a record 1,767 NHL games and another 419 games in the defunct World Hockey Association.

He also played one shift of a game in 1997, when he was almost 70, with the Detroit Vipers of the International Hockey League just to say he played in six different decades.

In his career, Howe won the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player six times and was named to 21 all-star teams. He also finished in the top five in NHL scoring in 21 consecutive seasons.

Howe attended a New York Rangers try-out camp when he was 17, but got homesick and left. The following year, the ambidextrous Howe wowed the Red Wings at their camp by scoring two goals — one shooting right and the other left.

Early in his career, he was on the Production Line with centre Sid Abel, who would later be his coach, and left winger Ted Lindsay.

“Sid liked to coach and he just told me ‘When I’m in the corner fighting for the puck, I’d consider it a favour if you’d stay out somewhere in the middle of the ice so if I get it, I don’t have to look around where to pass it, you’ll be there,’ ” Howe recalled this week in an interview on NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s weekly radio show. “I got my first goal that way.”

He went on to score 801 goals in the NHL — a record until Wayne Gretzky finally topped it with 894. He had another 174 in the WHA for a total of 975, which beats the 931 Gretzky scored in both leagues. Howe had 1,850 NHL points and 2,358 in all.

Gretzky grew up idolizing Howe and wore No. 99 in honour of Howe’s No. 9.

They were different players, though. While Gretzky used unparalleled vision and creativity to score, the six-foot 200-pound Howe was a feared physical presence along with being a superbly skilled player.

He once knocked out Montreal Canadiens star Maurice (Rocket) Richard with a punch, and some called him Mr. Elbows for his nasty battles for pucks along the boards.

In the 1950s, a New York sportswriter coined the phrase Gordie Howe Hat-trick — a goal, an assist and a fight — although Howe said it actually only happened once in his career.

After playing 25 seasons for Detroit, winning four Stanley Cups, Howe retired in 1971 due to a wrist ailment, but he returned two seasons later with the Houston Aeros of the WHL to play alongside his sons Mark and Marty. He moved to the New England Whalers in 1997 and finally retired for good when he was 52 in 1980.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Trudeau cancels Caribbean trip amid pipeline protests

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is cancelling his planned trip to… Continue reading

Town of Ponoka facing lawsuit from pair of local residents

Ponoka town council members and administration have been served with a lawsuit… Continue reading

Trudeau confers with cabinet ministers as rail blockades continue

The Trudeau government has been criticized for not doing more to end the blockades

Minister reports ‘modest progress’ after blockade talks with First Nation

TYENDINAGA, Ont. — Hours of talks between the federal government and representatives… Continue reading

Red Deer County investing in fibre optics

County investing $7 million over two years to improve Internet connections

Fashion Fridays: Apple body types: What you need to know

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Your community calendar

Feb. 6 A Perogie Supper is being held Thursday, Feb. 6 from… Continue reading

Woman loses 50 pairs of shoes after boyfriend accidentally donates them to thrift store

Cassandra Converse can’t wait to go shoe shopping. Last month, Converse’s boyfriend… Continue reading

RDC Queens fall in double OT to MacEwan University Griffins

Griffins 4 Queens 3 (2OT) The RDC Queens managed to salvage a… Continue reading

Trump takes Daytona 500 warmup lap in presidential limousine

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — President Donald Trump gave an election-year embrace to… Continue reading

Canada expected to support heavy fuel ban in Arctic despite costs to northerners

The federal government is expected to support international measures that would reduce… Continue reading

Nurses’ unions warn national standards for coronavirus protection too low

OTTAWA — The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions is warning that the… Continue reading

‘Sonic’ speeds to $57M debut; ‘Parasite’ sees big Oscar bump

NEW YORK — The redesigned “Sonic the Hedgehog” showed plenty of teeth… Continue reading

Justin Timberlake on ‘trauma’ of being pelted with bottles at SARS concert

TORONTO — Justin Timberlake is still haunted by being pelted with what… Continue reading

Most Read