As we say farewell to an icon, it is important to remember what made Gordie Howe, Gordie Howe. Let’s take a look at three moments in his career that made him into the legend we all know and love.
A career that almost wasn’t
Having only joined the Red Wings in 1946, Howe was only beginning to make his mark on the league when he had a nearly disastrous injury. In the 1950 playoffs, he had attempted a check on Maple Leafs captain Ted Kennedy and went awkwardly into the boards. He fractured his skull on the play and was hospitalized for a period of time. During that hospitalization he had to get surgery to alleviate pressure on his brain. Given the minimal advances in medicine at the time, it is amazing that he was able to return at all. He ended up returning the next season and leading the league in scoring by an astonishing twenty points.
Legend in two leagues
After retiring from the NHL, Howe got wrist surgery and returned to playing hockey in the World Hockey Association. He played six seasons in the WHA and scored one hundred points twice over that time. He began playing in the league at the age of 45 too. He was performing at a high level well into his forties and fifties. He averaged well over a point per game in both leagues and was the best player when on the ice. He accomplished many milestones that will never be touched again and left a legacy that will last many, many lifetimes.
Gordie Howe Hat Trick
A goal, an assist and a fight in the same game. That is a “Gordie Howe Hat Trick”. Ironically, Howe only had two of these in his entire career. While Howe wasn’t necessarily a big fighter, he did have a great amount of grit and tenacity. He recognized often that hockey was a game to enjoy. After a long and fulfilling life, we saw Howe as a fighter and now he is at peace.
What an amazing life he led.