I just got a text from a fellow hockey fan that read “Holy shit! Gordie Howe died.” I had to take a moment to take this in. As a youngster growing up in Canada, hockey was everything. My mom got me a book one day called Hockey….Here’s Howe. It was written in 1963, and it has been decades since I read that book. I’m not sure if I even have it. I can say that even though I love hockey, I only have ever had books by arguably the 3 best to ever play the game. Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr and Gordie Howe. In the book Gordie wrote about being a 15 year old kid from Saskatchewan that was in awe in the New York Rangers dressing room. He was invited to camp, and he thought it would be best to keep his mouth shut.
He quickly became the best player of his generation, and the term “Gordie Howe Hat Trick” (a goal, an assist, and a fight in the same game) still lives on to this day. He was also known as being the best and the toughest player at the same time. His elbow was especially feared. Often 2 players would go in the corner, and only Gordie would emerge.
He retired in 1971 for the first time, but 2 years later was lured to the newly formed WHA to play with his sons. He played professional hockey until the incredible age of 52. When he retired he had the record for games played, goals scored, won 4 Stanley Cups, 6 scoring titles, league MVP 6 times, and was named to the All Star team 21 times.
He was so good his name “Mr. Hockey” is a registered trademark. He was well loved in Detroit and in Canada, so in 2020 the Gordie Howe International Bridge will open between Detroit Michigan and Windsor Ontario.
To me, it’s kind of fitting that Ali’s funeral is happening on the same day that Gordie Howe died. Arguably the best ever at their respective sports. So long Gordie. I hope there is hockey on the other side.