Goodnight Mr Hockey
In hockey there are greats and there are greats. One man is recognised as a great but rarely spoken about in relation to other players mostly because Gordie Howe set the standard for what a hockey player should be; tough, skilful and a team player.
Friday night we learnt of the passing of Gordie Howe. Like all great players he set records. 1850 NHL points, 23 All Star appearances, 801 NHL goals. He also scored 7 points in 7 games against the power house USSR team of 1974 at the age of 46. That year he was also named as the WHA’s most valuable player. The longevity of Howe is often mentioned but that doesn’t show his achievements. Howe scored more than 40 points a season for 31 seasons (30 consecutivelyÂ and it would have been 32 had Howe not suffered a serious injury and missed half the season).
Whilst noted for his points Howe was as tough as they come. 1685 penalty minutes and a willingness to defend his team made Howe just as notorious. Â Despite only happening twice in his career the Gordie Howe hat trick of a goal, an assist and a fight sums up the man, his play and what every hockey player should be like.
Hockey players seem to rarely transcend their sport. Even now Crosby, Ovechkin and McDavid are not really known outside of the rinks and that is especially true of older players. Morenz, Richard, Orr, Hull and Bealiveau are not widely known in circles bigger than hockey. Gordie Howe though is the exception. Howe is referenced in popular culture in the film Slapshot and famously in The Simpsons.
Our thoughts are with Howe’s family and must say how patient and appreciative they have been with the public letting the public pay their respects and having his body lay in rest at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.
There will never be a player like Gordie Howe in the same way as there will be a scorer compared to Gretzky or a goalie compared to Patrick Roy because every player is like Howe. Yet for all his hockey greatness there are few players in any sport who will be described in such friendly, polite and nice terms. He will be sorely missed.