Farewell, Mr. Hockey

Gordie Howe was as durable as any Detroit-made automobile. He played through seven U.S. presidencies and skated a regular NHL shift at age 51. And in addition to his endurance, he won six MVPs and six scoring titles with the Red Wings.

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Reliably Great

The NHL record holder for most games and most seasons played, Howe wasn't just durable and consistent, he was consistently productive. On playing through aches and pains, he once said: "You've got to love what you're doing. If you love it, you can overcome any handicap or the soreness or all the aches and pains, and continue to play for a long, long time." A 23-time All-Star, Howe scored at least 20 goals in 22 of his 26 seasons in the league.


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One Tough Customer

In hockey, most players are known for either their skill or their physicality. Gordie Howe was one of the few known for both, as Detroit's No. 9 was not only one of the best players of all time but also one of the toughest. Howe was the rare star who also embraced the physical nature of the game and is one of only 10 players to record 1,000 points and 1,500 penalty minutes. "Sure, I remember the first time I played against Gordie," former Montreal Canadien Henri Richard said. "I got an elbow in the face. He was just a great hockey player, he just wanted to win, and that was part of the game. Everybody has his own way to play the game, and he was a little dirty, but just a great hockey player. I hated playing against him because he was too tough."


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Leading Man

Howe ranks fourth all time with 1,850 career points and challenged for the Art Ross Trophy seemingly every season of his brilliant 26-year NHL career. Former Maple Leaf Dave Keon summed it up nicely: "The weak teams are Boston and New York. The strong ones are Toronto, Chicago, Montreal and Gordie Howe." Howe led the league in scoring six different times and finished in the top five in the NHL in points an additional 14 times.


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Like a Fine Wine

No hockey player has ever been as good for as long as Howe. He excelled into his 40s and returned from retirement after 25 seasons in Detroit to play for Houston and Hartford in a successful return to the game. "If I failed badly," Howe said of his final act in hockey, "people would remember me more for trying to make a stupid comeback at 45 than for all the other things I did in hockey." Almost unbelievably, he totaled 41 points as a 51-year-old for the Hartford Whalers during the 1979-80 season. To this day, Howe has the highest points-per-game rate by a player after turning 40 and holds the records for most goals, assists and points by a player after his 40th birthday.



Total games Howe played in the NHL and the rival World Hockey Association.


Howe's age when he played in the 1980 NHL All-Star Game, making him the oldest player to participate in league history.


Number of All-Star Games he played in during his 32-year career.


Seasons he was awarded the Hart Trophy, given to the league's most valuable player. Only Wayne Gretzky (nine) has more.

Additional reporting by Gus Elvin. Illustration by Yann Dolan.

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