Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Happy Birthday Mr. Hockey

Today's a special day for the hockey community. Legend Gordie Howe turns 82. Known better to us as Mr. Hockey, Howe personified what the game was about bringing passion to every shift. I've heard the stories about how tough he was from Dad when hockey was HOCKEY. Not the vanilla version we get these days. The all-time leader in games played (1,767) ranks second to Wayne Gretzky in goals (801) and third in points (1,850) trailing just the Great One and Mark Messier, whose rugged style was eerily similar to the original who never passed up a check and would greet opponents with frequent elbows, etc. Mr. Hockey also loved to drop 'em and soon the Gordie Howe Hat Trick became known as a goal, assist and a fight after No.9.

He played the first 25 seasons with the Detroit Red Wings leading the Original Six franchise to four Stanley Cups ('50, '52, '54, '55) while teaming alongside Ted Lindsay and Sid Abel to form The Production Line. After retiring at age 42, he returned a couple of years later to play with sons Mark and Marty who were each selected by the Houston Aeros of The WHA- leading them to consecutive championships. He also took league MVP at age 46, having the Gary L. Davidson Trophy renamed after him. In his final season of the World Hockey Association representing the New England Whalers who'd later become Hartford in NHL expansion, Howe along with son Mark teamed on a line with a teenage Gretzky in an All-Star Game format that saw the WHA All-Stars edge HC Moscow Dynamo in a three-game series.

After the league folded, Mr. Hockey had one more run in the NHL with the Hartford Whalers. At age 51, he played in all 80 games during the 1979-80 season and was invited by former coach Scotty Bowman to the All-Star Game which as fate had it, was at a familiar place he'd called home in Joe Louis Arena. Receiving two standing ovations, he didn't disappoint setting up one goal in his team's 6-3 win while again teaming with a 19 year-old Great One. Ultimately, Gretzky passed his childhood hero scoring No.802 for the Los Angeles Kings while also surpassing Howe as hockey's all-time leading scorer. If you want to see a great tribute, please click on the link below:

Hockey Legends: Gordie "Mr. Hockey" Howe

A look at some of the records Howe still owns:

-Most NHL seasons (26)
-Most reg. season games with one team (1,687)
-Most NHL/WHA GP (2,186)
-Most goals by a right wing (801)
-Most assists by a RW (1,049)
-Most points by a RW (1,850)
-First player to score over 1,000 goals incl. NHL/WHA playoffs
-Oldest player to play in NHL- 52 years, 11 days

Other Achievments:

-6-time Hart winner
-23-time NHL AS
-12-time 1st NHL All-Star Team
-Hockey Hall Of Fame (1972)
-6 Art Rosses
-Lester B. Patrick (1967)

Plenty more can be said about Mr. Howe, who lost wife Colleen last year to Pick's Disease. When it comes to the sport, nobody means more than Gordie Howe. Happy Birthday Mr. Hockey!

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