I was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Even though Gordie Howe was born in a small town, moved to Saskatoon, and left when he was 16 to pursue his hockey career, the city laid claim to him. He passed away yesterday at the age of 88 at his son’s home in Toledo, Ohio.
Howe was one of my Dad’s favorite players and watching Hockey Night in Canada every Saturday helped him to become one of my favorites as well. He played most of his career in Detroit, and then Hartford/New England Whalers of the WHA/NHL, but he was Canada’s own.
I remember one time when our parents took my sister and me to an ice rink built on the school grounds (I didn’t skate on an indoor rink until we moved to the West Coast). My sister skated over to my parents all excited and said she saw Gordie Howe! Sure enough, he was there with his sons. No one made a huge fuss, just saying hello, which looking back was great. He was just a Dad out with his kids like any other family.
When I was reading the tributes last night and this morning, I was reminded of the “Gordie Howe Hat Trick.” A normal hat trick is scoring three goals in a single game. The Howe version was a goal, an assist, and a fight in a single game! The irony is Howe himself only accomplished this twice.
In a career that spanned six decades, Gordie Howe earned the respect and admiration of players and fans alike.
RIP Mr. Hockey, you will be missed.