Last week, we lost another great sports legend. Gordie Howe was one of those special people who has changed the way their sport has played. You often hear from those who follow hockey that there will never be a hockey player quite like Howe. And with good reason.
Howe was the type of player that every hockey player wanted to be: tough, physical, with hands as soft as silk. There is even a hat trick named after him given to a player that records a goal, an assist, and gets penalized for a fight, the very qualities that Howe carried throughout his entire hockey career. That is why many consider him to be the greatest hockey player ever. Even Wayne Gretzky, a player many consider the best to play the game of hockey, has bestowed that honour on to Howe.
Howe is best remembered helping lead the Detroit Red Wings to 4 Stanley Cups titles. I was lucky enough to see Howe play at Maple Leaf Gardens while he was a member of the Hartford Whalers. Being so young, I didn’t realize at the time what a big deal it was for Howe to be playing hockey with two of his sons at the age of 51.
While some would say there will never be another Gordie Howe, the cynic in me says nobody wants another Gordie Howe. As in someone who can rough it up as well as put pucks in the net. That kind of hockey seems to be frowned upon today and yet these same people like to reminisce about the “good old days” of hockey.
Whether a player like Howe would play in today’s NHL is anybody’s guess. As you all know, I like hockey players who play with an edge. Meaning, they like to be physical as well as score goals. Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews are just a couple of players who exhibit those characteristics. It just goes to show that Howe is the kind of player every hockey player looks up to, even today.
So rest in peace, Mr. Hockey. You will be missed. (Gordie Howe, 1928-2016)