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RIP Gordie Howe

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Gordie Howe passed away this morning, surrounded by family at his son’s home. He was a Hall of Famer and four-times Stanley Cup champion who dominated the record book over the course of a 32-year career, and he was known as Mr Hockey because nobody else could have been.

Howe’s death doesn’t come as a shock – he’d been battling serious health problems for several years – and over the next few days, you’re going to see a flood of tributes to him from around the sports world. Some of those will be written by those who watched him play, and others by those who were lucky enough to have known him. They’ll be touching and heart-felt, and I encourage you to read every one of them.

I’m young enough that I never saw Howe play. Even his later years, when he was putting up 41 points for the Whalers as a 51-year-old, were before my time. And yet Howe was one of the most important players of my lifetime; he did as much to shape my identity as a hockey fan as any player I could name. Howe was hockey. He was the archetype of what a hockey player should be.

That wasn’t because of his scoring records, which were stunning at the time but have almost all long since been broken. It’s not about his unmatched longevity, amazing as that was, or about his dominance in his prime, although there’s no question that he was the best player in the sport for long stretches.

Hockey’s always been a strange game, and to a new fan, it can feel like two different sports are being played at once. There are the element of speed and skill that show themselves throughout the game in ways both big and small; the way that some players can almost effortlessly do things on ice that, if you stop and think about it, should really be impossible. And there’s also the violence, the fury of collisions and elbows and sometimes fists. Not everyone appreciates that side of the game, and it’s been fading from the sport in recent years, but it’s still there in some form and always will be.

Those two halves of the game shouldn’t be able to co-exist, but they do, often on the same shift. At its best, hockey can be a work of art that leaves blood and teeth all over the canvas. And that’s why Gordie Howe always seemed to matter so much, why he was at the very core of what the sport was. Nobody ever combined both halves of the game the way he did.

Howe won the NHL’s scoring title six times, as well as six MVP honors, both marks that stood until Wayne Gretzky arrived. He was also a 23-time All-Star, which seems like it must be a typo. Nobody will touch that mark, and is speaks to Howe’s legacy of being so good for so long.

But the secret to Howe’s success was that his skill was tied to a legendary mean streak. Before he ascended to Mr Hockey status, he had another nickname: Mr Elbows. If you’re wondering where he got it, well, ask anyone who ever went into a corner with him. Be patient waiting for an answer; there’s a decent chance their jaw is still wired shut.

Those were the two halves of Howe’s game, and you couldn’t separate one from the other. Howe’s dominant skill make him a target for the other team, which meant plenty of opportunities to show off the mean streak. And that intimidation factor gave him room to work with, back in a day when space on the ice had to be earned.

Go to any city on hockey’s map and talk to the diehards, and it won’t be long before you start hearing the stories about the guys who could play both halves of the game. They’re the power forwards or the hard-nosed defenseman, and they’re always the most popular players. Hockey fans love a big goal or a marathon fight, and show them a guy who can do both and they’ll fall in love. Howe wasn’t the first star who could do both, but he was the first who was the best in the league at each.

It’s a further tribute that Howe could be so good at everything a hockey player is supposed to do on the ice while still being known as one of the game’s greatest class act off of it. It’s part of the reason that he was one of the few NHL stars to truly transcend the sport; even sports fans who couldn’t tell a puck from a jockstrap still know the name Gordie Howe. It’s a big part of why he kept showing up in pop culture, even long after his career had ended, in everything from Ferris Bueller to The Simpsons. His name eventually became shorthand for “hockey playerâ€. They meant the same thing.

Whenever an icon dies and the tributes pour in, we always say that we’ll never see another like them. That seems like a fitting thing to say, and it’s inevitably accurate to some extent. But in Howe’s case, it’s inarguably true. We never will see another player like him. The sport is changing – many would say evolving – and those two sides of the game aren’t equal halves any more. These days, calling a player Mr Elbows would be an insult, the sort of mocking nickname you’d slap on a guy before he was run out of the league. That’s not a good thing or a bad thing. It’s just what the game is today.

But even now, as a new generation of fans grows up with a new version of the game, they’ll see glimpses of those two sides of the sport. They’ll learn to appreciate the way that speed and skill can co-exist with power and pain. And at some point, they’ll end up imagining the ideal player, the guy who could dominate the game by being the best at everything it can be. And whether they know it or not, they’ll be picturing Gordie Howe.

RIP, Mr Hockey.

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Gordie Howe passed away this morning, surrounded by family at his son’s home. He was a Hall of Famer and four-times Stanley Cup champion who dominated the record book over the course of a 32-year career, and he was known as Mr Hockey because nobody else could have been.

Howe’s death doesn’t come as a shock – he’d been battling serious health problems for several years – and over the next few days, you’re going to see a flood of tributes to him from around the sports world. Some of those will be written by those who watched him play, and others by those who were lucky enough to have known him. They’ll be touching and heart-felt, and I encourage you to read every one of them.

I’m young enough that I never saw Howe play. Even his later years, when he was putting up 41 points for the Whalers as a 51-year-old, were before my time. And yet Howe was one of the most important players of my lifetime; he did as much to shape my identity as a hockey fan as any player I could name. Howe was hockey. He was the archetype of what a hockey player should be.

That wasn’t because of his scoring records, which were stunning at the time but have almost all long since been broken. It’s not about his unmatched longevity, amazing as that was, or about his dominance in his prime, although there’s no question that he was the best player in the sport for long stretches.

Hockey’s always been a strange game, and to a new fan, it can feel like two different sports are being played at once. There are the element of speed and skill that show themselves throughout the game in ways both big and small; the way that some players can almost effortlessly do things on ice that, if you stop and think about it, should really be impossible. And there’s also the violence, the fury of collisions and elbows and sometimes fists. Not everyone appreciates that side of the game, and it’s been fading from the sport in recent years, but it’s still there in some form and always will be.

Those two halves of the game shouldn’t be able to co-exist, but they do, often on the same shift. At its best, hockey can be a work of art that leaves blood and teeth all over the canvas. And that’s why Gordie Howe always seemed to matter so much, why he was at the very core of what the sport was. Nobody ever combined both halves of the game the way he did.

Howe won the NHL’s scoring title six times, as well as six MVP honors, both marks that stood until Wayne Gretzky arrived. He was also a 23-time All-Star, which seems like it must be a typo. Nobody will touch that mark, and is speaks to Howe’s legacy of being so good for so long.

But the secret to Howe’s success was that his skill was tied to a legendary mean streak. Before he ascended to Mr Hockey status, he had another nickname: Mr Elbows. If you’re wondering where he got it, well, ask anyone who ever went into a corner with him. Be patient waiting for an answer; there’s a decent chance their jaw is still wired shut.

Those were the two halves of Howe’s game, and you couldn’t separate one from the other. Howe’s dominant skill make him a target for the other team, which meant plenty of opportunities to show off the mean streak. And that intimidation factor gave him room to work with, back in a day when space on the ice had to be earned.

Go to any city on hockey’s map and talk to the diehards, and it won’t be long before you start hearing the stories about the guys who could play both halves of the game. They’re the power forwards or the hard-nosed defenseman, and they’re always the most popular players. Hockey fans love a big goal or a marathon fight, and show them a guy who can do both and they’ll fall in love. Howe wasn’t the first star who could do both, but he was the first who was the best in the league at each.

It’s a further tribute that Howe could be so good at everything a hockey player is supposed to do on the ice while still being known as one of the game’s greatest class act off of it. It’s part of the reason that he was one of the few NHL stars to truly transcend the sport; even sports fans who couldn’t tell a puck from a jockstrap still know the name Gordie Howe. It’s a big part of why he kept showing up in pop culture, even long after his career had ended, in everything from Ferris Bueller to The Simpsons. His name eventually became shorthand for “hockey playerâ€. They meant the same thing.

Whenever an icon dies and the tributes pour in, we always say that we’ll never see another like them. That seems like a fitting thing to say, and it’s inevitably accurate to some extent. But in Howe’s case, it’s inarguably true. We never will see another player like him. The sport is changing – many would say evolving – and those two sides of the game aren’t equal halves any more. These days, calling a player Mr Elbows would be an insult, the sort of mocking nickname you’d slap on a guy before he was run out of the league. That’s not a good thing or a bad thing. It’s just what the game is today.

But even now, as a new generation of fans grows up with a new version of the game, they’ll see glimpses of those two sides of the sport. They’ll learn to appreciate the way that speed and skill can co-exist with power and pain. And at some point, they’ll end up imagining the ideal player, the guy who could dominate the game by being the best at everything it can be. And whether they know it or not, they’ll be picturing Gordie Howe.

RIP, Mr Hockey.

 

tap....tap .....tap ...tap....tap. ....tap.....tap

 

They call Gretzky the Great One.....but compared to Gordie....he's "the Pretty good one".   RiP Gordie.  

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tap....tap .....tap ...tap....tap. ....tap.....tap

 

They call Gretzky the Great One.....but compared to Gordie....he's "the Pretty good one".   RiP Gordie.  

 

 

Get outta here with that bullshit.

 

Gordie Howe is a legend, but mainly because he was an iron man who stood the test of time and at the same time, was a great player....but at their respective peaks, Gretzky was EASILY the better player and the best hockey player ever.      I wouldnt have an issue if you said Howe deserves mention in the same breath as Gretzky....I'd agree.   However, saying Gretzky is only "pretty good" in comparison is laughable.

 

Anyway....rest in peace, Mr Howe.   

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