So you’re looking for my best Gordie Howe story? Saw him play once – does that count?

Posted: 06/10/2016 in hockey
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The greatest player to ever lace up the hockey skates died on Friday.

Legendary Gordie Howe passed away at age 88 and if Wayne Gretzky says someone is the greatest ever to play the sport, count me in.

The timing of Howe’s death didn’t allow him to receive its due. Friday just happened to be the day-long remembrance of Muhammad Ali and ESPN was just a tad busy providing excellent coverage of Ali’s funeral.

That meant the network most people watch for sports news wasn’t in position to do Howe justice. He was a big-time star back in the day when people had to learn the hockey scores by listening to the radio broadcast or by reading the morning newspaper.

Pretty sure nobody has counted on the local newspaper for a score in about 25 years.

Anyway, Howe was known as “Mr. Hockey” and that alone should tell you about his stature with the sport.

The Detroit Red Wings’ star won MVP honors six times and scored 801 goals during a 26-year NHL stint.

He retired from the Red Wings in 1971 after 25 seasons and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame the next year. But he wasn’t done playing, not at all.

He joined forces with sons Marty and Mark and played six seasons in the World Hockey Association – four for the Houston Aeros and two with the New England Whalers.

And that is when I saw Howe play a game. The San Diego Mariners were part of the WHA for three seasons and I recall it being a big deal to go see Howe play since he was a legend and was also pushing 50.

I cannot tell you how Howe fared in the game but I do recall Mark Howe scored a goal. No idea why I remember this. I definitely wasn’t taking notes at games at that age.

Maybe I will make an exhaustive search of the storage shed and go through the old ticket stubs box and see if I can pinpoint a date, research the game and re-live the results.

Howe played one last season in the NHL in 1979-80 and scored 15 goals for the Hartford Whalers before retiring at age 52.

Either way, it is nice to know I saw the greatest hockey player play a game.

“Unfortunately we lost the greatest hockey player ever today, but more importantly the nicest man I have ever met,” Gretzky said on his Twitter account. “Sending our thoughts and prayers to the Howe family and to the millions of hockey fans who like me loved Gordie Howe. RIP Mr. Hockey.”

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