Hockey Legend, Gordie Howe suffers serious stroke – We look at his great career

HHOF, Gordie Howe

HHOF, Gordie Howe

Word coming out of Texas Tuesday evening is that NHL Legend Gordie Howe suffered what his doctor and son, Murray Howe say is a serious stroke. Howe had been recuperating at the home of his daughter after having spinal surgery – a mild lumbar decompression procedure – this past summer.

His son Murray said that Howe had been on the mend and had been walking up to a mile a day prior to his stroke. Over the last few years, Howe had been suffering from dementia and had ceased giving interviews about two years ago.

FTHN takes a look back at an original hockey legend – #9 Gordie Howe.

EARLY CAREER

Gordie Howe was born in Floral, Saskatchewan, Canada on March 31, 1928 but moved to Saskatoon during The Depression. He was diagnosed with dyslexia at a young age. As most boys in Canada at his age did, he gravitated toward hockey in his early years and at age 15 he went out on his own to try to pursue his dream of becoming a hockey player.

He had a tryout with the New York Rangers but didn’t make the cut and a year later the Rangers loss was the Red Wings gain.

STARRING IN MO-TOWN AND BEYOND

Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe

Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe

Howe made his debut on right wing with the Red Wings on October 16, 1946. He scored a goal in his first game. A little known fact is that he didn’t wear his famous # 9 his rookie season, he wore # 17. He didn’t get to don # 9 until his sophomore year with Detroit after they had traded Roy Conacher to the Chicago Black Hawks.

Unlike a lot of players who may have requested a number for superstitious reasons or childhood reasons, Howe accepted the # 9 because it afforded him the opportunity to have a better sleeper number on the railroad cars that transported players from city to city.

Another unique thing about Howe was that he was ambidextrous and in the era of the straight blade stick it allowed him to be a better playmaker than most because he was comfortable with both the forehand and backhand.

He also showed a willingness to drop the gloves, even when it wasn’t completely necessary. The term “a Gordie Howe Hat Trick” originated from his ability to score a goal, assist on a score and have a fight. The funny thing is though over the course of his career, that actually only happened two times (Oct 10, 1953, and March 21, 1954).

Because he was such a physical specimen, Howe was able to dominate in an era that for him lasted 5 decades! During his time in Detroit, Howe had become the superstar of the NHL. He lit the lamp more than his peers, including Maurice “Rocket” Richard who was his main rival during their storied careers. Teaming up with Sid Abel and Ted Lindsay they formed The Production Line – a spinoff of their scoring prowess and the thriving automobile industry in Detroit

THE WHA YEARS

A nasty contract dispute and chronic wrist injury prompted the ending of Howe’s career in Detroit. At the conclusion of the 1970-71 season, Howe retired. Trying to add some publicity to their NHL arrival, the expansion 1972 New York Islanders offered him their head coaching job but were rebuffed by Howe.

Gordie Howe and sons

Gordie Howe and sons

In 1973, Howe would go on to play with the Houston Aeros of the WHA and, in a pro hockey first, had the opportunity to play with both of his sons, Mark and Marty. During the 1978-79 season – the last for the WHA – Howe played in the WHA All Star Game and was a linemate of Wayne Gretzky as the WHA took on The Moscow Dynamo in a three game series.

In 1979, the WHA folded and 4 surviving teams joined the NHL and Howe found himself back in the league, only this time with the Hartford Whalers. Again, he had the opportunity to experience this with his 2 sons. Howe played a year with Hartford and appeared in all 80 games in helping the Whalers make the playoffs their first year in the NHL.

Over the course of a spectacular career, Howe registered NHL totals of 801 goal, 1049 assists for 1850 points with 1685 PIM. In the post season he was 157 games played with 160 points on 68 goals and 92 assists and 220 PIM. His WHA totals were 419 games played with 174 goals, 334 assists for 508 points and 399 PIM, His WHA Playoff totals were 78 games played 28 goals, 43 assists for 71 points and 115 PIM. He also won the Stanley Cup 4 times, won the Ross Trophy and Hart Trophy 6 times each among numerous other awards and was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1972

Our thoughts and prayers are with “Mr. Hockey” and his family during this difficult time.
We will update the condition of Mr. Howe as we get more details.

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