Famed hockey player Gordie Howe is dead at the age of 88, believed to be the result from effects of a major stroke in 2014 as well as dementia. He was known as “Mr. Hockey” for good reason – playing in the National Hockey League (NHL) from 1946 to his first retirement in 1971 and then, as the grandfather of two, returning to play another seven years.
Howe was among the NHL’s top 10 scoring leaders for 21 straight years and led the Detroit Red Wings to four Stanley Cups. Coming back for a second stab at his playing goal of longevity, he played for the World Hockey Association’s (WHA) Houston Aeros and the New England Whalers for six more seasons with sons Marty and Mark.
After a final season in the NHL with the Hartford Whalers in 1979-80, he made this his final retirement from the game he loved at age 52. In total, he played 26 seasons in the NHL and six seasons in the WHA. And in 2008 he became the inaugural recipient of the NHL Lifetime Achievement Award.
Along the way Howe was the six-time winner of the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player and won six Art Ross Trophies as the leading scorer. He also holds the distinction of being the only NHL player to have played in five decades, most of which were in a time when helmets weren’t worn. With 1,850 career points, he ranks fourth behind Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and Jaromir Jagr.
In 1980 then-NHL president Clarence Campbell said that hockey was a Canadian when Howe joined the league and he converted it into a North American game.
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