Friday June 10, 2016
The man widely known as ‘Mr. Hockey’ has passed away.
Gordie Howe, an iconic figure who patrolled the right wing with the Detroit Red Wings for much of his NHL career has passed away at the age of 88.
The Saskatoon, Saskatchewan native had been diagnosed with dementia in 2012 and suffered a series of strokes in 2014.
A four-time Stanley Cup champion, Howe is the only player in NHL history whose career spanned five decades, a record 26-year tenure that included 1,767 games, with 1,687 of those wearing the winged wheel. He holds NHL records for most career games played and most games played with one team.
Howe also had Canadian Hockey League roots.
He was a founding co-owner of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants, who joined the league in 2001. The above photo features Howe conducting a ceremonial puckdrop at the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup in his hometown of Saskatoon.
“All hockey fans grieve the loss of the incomparable Gordie Howe,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement Friday. “A remarkable athlete whose mastery of our sport was reflected by the longevity of his career and by his nickname, ‘Mr. Hockey,’ Gordie’s commitment to winning was matched only by his commitment to his teammates, to his friends, to the Red Wings, to the city of Detroit and – above all – to his family. His devotion to (wife) Colleen through her illness and the fact that he extended his playing days into a fifth decade so he could play with his sons are only two examples of that true priority in his life.
“Gordie’s greatness travels far beyond mere statistics; it echoes in the words of veneration spoken by countless players who joined him in the Hockey Hall of Fame and considered him their hero.
“Gordie’s toughness as a competitor on the ice was equaled only by his humor and humility away from it. No sport could have hoped for a greater, more-beloved ambassador.
“On behalf of the generations who were thrilled by his play and those who only know of his legend, and on behalf of all the young people and teammates he inspired, we send heartfelt wishes of condolence, comfort and strength to the Howe family and to all who mourn the passing of this treasured icon of our game.”
Howe’s 801 goals were the most in NHL history until Wayne Gretzky passed him in 1994 and remain the most by a right wing. He finished his NHL career with 1,850 points, another record which stood until Gretzky broke it, was the first player in League history to play in 1,500 games, and remains the oldest player to skate in an NHL game (52 years, 11 days).
No one else in NHL history has played past the age of 48.
Howe in many ways is the personification and the essence of hockey. His accomplishments, longevity and goodwill as one of the game’s great ambassadors have solidified him as one of the greatest to ever play the game.
Written with files from David Kalan at NHL.com.