Before there was the “Great One” (Wayne Gretzky), the king of the hockey world was “Mr. Hockey” Gordie Howe. During a 32-year career that spanned parts of five decades, Howe, who passed away Friday at age 88, was a dominating performer and skilled performer who was able to compete at a high level even past the age of 50.
Howe joined the Detroit Red Wings of the NHL as an 18-year old rookie in 1946. During his 25 seasons in Detroit he led the Red Wings to four Stanley Cup titles while winning six scoring titles and six Hart Memorial Trophies as the league MVP.
During the 1968-69 season, at the age of 40, Howe scored a career-high 103 points (the NHL expanded from a 70 game to 76 game season in 1967-68). He was named an All-Star in 22 of his 25 seasons with the Red Wings.
After retiring in 1971, Howe returned to the spot in 1973 as a member of the Houston Aeros of the World Hockey Association. There he played with his sons Mark and Marty and soon proved that he was still among the best hockey players in the world. He was named league MVP in 1974 (an award renamed the next year as the Gordie Howe Award). He also led the Aeros to two WHA championships.
He moved to the New England Whalers in 1977 and after the WHA folded the renamed Hartford Whalers joined the NHL in 1979. Howe, at the age of 51, played in all 80 games of the 1979-80 season while helping the Whalers make the playoffs.
In a fitting tribute, Howe was named to the All-Star team with the game being played at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. Howe completed his career having been selected to NHL All-Star teams in five decades. Also appearing in that game was 19-year-old Wayne Gretzky.
Below are links to some of the great highlights of Howe’s career available on YouTube.