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Gordie Howe Dies at 88

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NHL Legend Gordie Howe Has Died at the Age of 88

The NHL lost a legend this morning with the news of Gordie Howe passing away. The man known as “Mr. Hockey” passed away Friday morning. No other details were released, but Howe was diagnosed with dementia in 2012 and suffered a stroke in 2014 that impaired his movement and speech.

Howe spent 26 seasons in the NHL, sporting the number 9 for the Detroit Red Wings in most of his 25 seasons. After leaving the NHL following the 1970-71 season, he returned for one season with the Hartford Whalers, playing his final game at 52, becoming the oldest player to appear in an NHL game.

Howe debuted with the Red Wings at just 18 years old, wearing number 17, not his famous number 9, in his rookie season. After teammate Roy Conacher was moved to the Chicago Blackhawks, Howe was offered number 9, which he would wear for the rest of his NHL career.

Howe held most of the NHL’s records until the 90s, when a young forward with the Edmonton Oilers, Wayne Gretzky, would break most of them on his way to becoming the greatest player in NHL history. But Gretzky didn’t see himself as the greatest of all time, that title goes to Howe. He said this in February of this year in an interview with ESPN, “I’m impressed by Crosby, Ovechkin, Stamkos, Toews — those guys do such great things for our game today. But Gordie Howe is the greatest player who ever lived. There’s not even a question about it. Imagine scoring 20 goals at 50 years old? Jonathan Toews might be the greatest athlete in the game today. He’s not playing at 50 and he’s not scoring 20 goals. Nobody ever will again. It’s a fact.”

Howe was considered one of the greatest, or the greatest according to Gretzky, players off all time for a reason. Howe scored 30 or more goals 14 times in his career and put up 70 or more points 18 times.Howe finished in the top 5 in scoring for 20 straight seasons. He finished his career with over 800 goals and over 1000 assists in his 26 seasons, putting him 4th all time in points scored.

And all that scoring didn’t come without any recognition. Howe was part of 23 NHL all star games and finished on the NHL’s first All Star Team 12 times, and the Second team 9 times. He finished as the leagues leading scorer 6 times, winning the Art Ross Trophy in 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1957, and 1963, and won the Hart Trophy as the leagues MVP 6 times, in 1952, 1953, 1957, 1958, 1960, and 1963.

Howe’s success as a player also helped his team, the Red Wings, reach the playoffs in 19 of his 25 seasons with the team. He won 4 Stanley Cups, in 1950, 1952, 1954, and 1955. He also helped lead the Whalers to the playoffs in 1971, but the team would not find success.

Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said this of the legend: “Gordie Howe was an incredible ambassador for the game of hockey. He was as fierce and competitive as they come but away from the rink he was truly engaging and personable and always enjoyed his interaction with the fans. … We will miss Mr. Hockey, who was the greatest Red Wing of all time.”