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R.I.P., Gordie Howe

June 10, 2016

“Mr. Hockey” has passed away at the age of 88. Here are a few stories about one of the greatest hockey players to ever take the ice.
Gordie Howe

Gordie Howe Hat Trick

Howe was as frequent a brawler as he was a scorer—he started a lot of fights on the ice. There’s an unofficial hockey accomplishment called the “Gordie Howe Hat Trick.” While a regular hat trick is three goals in one game, the Howe version indicates a player scored a goal, got an assist, and got in a fight all in the same game. (Howe himself only actually got two Gordie Howe hat tricks, one in October 1953 and the other five months later.)

Durable Athlete

Hockey players are some of the most durable athletes in professional sports. None more so than Howe. He entered the NHL as an 18-year-old in 1946 and retired in 1971—a span of 25 seasons. He was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972…and then returned to the pros, lacing up for the Houston Aeros of the newly formed World Hockey Association. He stayed with the WHA through the 1980 season, which by then had been absorbed by the NHL.

Six Decades of Hockey

Howe was the only hockey player to compete in five separate decades, but he added a sixth in 1997. He played one game for the Detroit Vipers of the International Hockey League in 1997. Howe was 69 at the time.

Mr. Everything

Most widely known by the nickname “Mr. Hockey,” Howe may also hold the unofficial NHL record for “most nicknames.” In addition to “Mr. Hockey” (which he trademarked), he was called “Mr. Elbows,” “Mr. Everything,” “Mr. All-Star” (he played in 23 all-star games), “The Most,” “The Great Gordie,” and “The Legend,” and “The King of Hockey.”

“Gordon” on The Simpsons

Younger readers might know Gordie Howe best as a punchline on The Simpsons. On a 1992 episode, Bart Simpson gets revenge on his teacher for giving him detention by wooing her via love letters (and then breaking up with her). Bart says they’re from “Gordon,” and gives her a picture he cuts out of a hockey trivia book. Some of The Simpsons writers wanted to use Johnny Unitas for the bit, but couldn’t secure the rights. Writer Al Jean suggested Howe, because he was a big fan growing up. At the end of the episode, some of Howe’s statistics flash up on the screen, added in because the running time was a few seconds too short.

The Gordie Howe Story

How many hockey players get a made-for-TV movie based on their lives? In 2013, Mr. Hockey: The Gordie Howe Story aired on the CBC in Canada and the Hallmark Channel in the U.S.

 

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