Gordie Howe, one of the best hockey players ever and namesake of the “Gordie Howe hat trick” (a goal, an assist, and a fight), died today at the age of 88. Howe was a 23-time All-Star and six-time league MVP during his legendary 33-year career. He held the NHL record for goals with 801 until it was broken by Wayne Gretzky, himself a huge fan of Mr. Hockey. Howe played from his teenage years into his 50s, amazingly scoring 41 points at age 51 playing on the Hartford Whalers with two of his sons.
<italics>Mr. Hockey turns 85 on March 31, 2013, yet it has been only 33 years since he last skated in the NHL. To mark the legendary right wing's birthday, SI.com has compiled photos from throughout his 32-year Hall of Fame career.</italics> Here, Howe (center) sits next to Red Wings teammate Red Kelly during a game against the New York Rangers in December 1954. Although just 26, Howe was already in his ninth NHL season. Detroit won its second straight Stanley Cup that season as Howe made his eighth straight All-Star team. In all, he won four Stanley Cups and made 23 NHL All-Star teams during his career.
Howe and the Red Wings battle the Montreal Canadiens in October 1957. He scored 33 goals and 77 points in 64 games that season and won the Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL's MVP, his fourth of six such honors. His rugged style of play was summed up by the expression "Gordie Howe hat trick" -- when a player has a goal, an assist and a fight in the same game.
Howe poses for a portrait with Red Wings teammate Ted Lindsay in the locker room at Olympia Stadium in Detroit in January 1957. Howe, Lindsay and Sid Abel were known as "The Production Line" and the trio finished first, second an third in scoring during the 1949-50 season.
Howe and Bill Gadsby talk on the ice during a break in the action of a game against the Canadiens in October 1963. Howe spent 25 seasons with the Red Wings and still holds eight franchise records, including games played (1,687), goals (786) and points (1,809).
After coming out of his two-year retirement in 1973 to join the NHL's new rival -- the World Hockey Association -- Howe watches from the bench as his Houston Aeros play the Alberta Oilers in February 1974. He won the first of his two Avco Cup championships with the Aeros that season, ultimately producing 37 points in 26 postseason games during the two title runs.
Howe tapes his stick before a game against the Vancouver Blazers in February 1974. That season, he won the Gary L. Davidson Trophy as the WHA's Most Valuable Player. The award was renamed the Gordie Howe Trophy a year later.
Mr. Hcckey admires his 50th birthday cake before a game against the Cincinnati Stingers. When he returned the NHL the next year as the league absorbed the Whalers, he became the oldest player in NHL history, and he remains the only person to play in it at age 50 or older.
The How family at home in Connecticut in December 1979. The 51-year-old Gordie was in the midst of his final season of pro hockey. He would later return for one shift with the Detroit Vipers of the International Hockey League in 1997 to become the first player in the sport's history to play professionally in six consecutive decades.
At Mike Modano Arena in Detroit. The 1,071 pucks next to the Hockey Hall of Famer represent the total number of regular and postseason goals he scored during his illustrious career in the NHL and WHA.
Photo: John Sobczak/Sports Illustrated
Rare SI Photos of Gordie Howe
Sharks still biting
The San Jose Sharks kept their fins above water Thursday night, avoiding elimination with a 4–2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals. Sharks goalie Martin Jones did his best impression of a brick wall, thwarting the Penguins’ aggressive, continual attack and finishing with a franchise playoff record 44 saves. Here are some of his best saves from last night: