Red Wings legend Gordie Howe, known as Mr. Hockey, dies at the age of 88

Posted at 9:31 AM, Jun 10, 2016

Red Wings legend Gordie Howe has died at the age of 88.

Howe, also known as “Mr. Hockey,” revolutionized the sport during his over career that spanned six decades.

Related: VIDEO: Spending a day with Mr. Hockey and his family as the Gordie Howe Initiative is launched

His longevity was something players growing up admired. He is the only player to have played in the NHL in five different decades, being from the 1940s until the 1980s. Eventually, he played in a sixth decade with one game for the Detroit Vipers in 1997 at nearly 70 years old.

Howe entered the NHL with the Red Wings at the age of 18. He played with them for 25 years until he retired, for the first time, after the 1970-71.

During his Red Wings career, he played in 1,687 games, scoring 913 goals, 1,243 assists for a total of 2,156 points. He also won four NHL Championships in 1950, 1952, 1954 and 1955.

A statue unveiled at Joe Louis Arena in his honor in 2007.

When Howe finally retired, at the age of 52, he held the record for games played, 2,421, goals, 2,071, assists, 1518 and points, 2,589.

Since then, Wayne Gretzky has passed him in goals, assists and points. Howe still holds the record for game played and games played with one team.

It was widely known that Gretzky greatly respected Howe, and actually wore #9 in juniors, before switching to No. 99 later.

Throughout his career, Howe won numerous awards. He won the Art Ross Trophy for the top point scorer six times in 1950-1953, 1956 and 1962. He also won the Hart Memorial Trophy for the league MVP six times in 1951, 1952, 1956, 1957, 1959 and 1962. He also played in every NHL All-Star Game from 1948-1955, 1957-1965, 1967-1971 and in 1980.

  • He was selected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972.
  • Howe still holds the record for over a dozen categories including:
  • Most NHL regular season games: 1,767
  • Most NHL regular season games with one team: 1,687
  • Most NHL seasons played: 26 (tied with Chris Chelios)
  • Most consecutive NHL 20-goal seasons: 22 (1949-1971)
  • First player to reach 1,500 games played in NHL History
  • Oldest player to play in the NHL: 52 years, 11 days old.
  • Most NHL All-Star Game appearances: 23

In 2014, Howe's family moved him to Texas to live with their sister, and shortly after, his condition quickly took a dive.

Then, Dr. Maynard Howe (no relation to Gordie), is the CEO of Stemedia, a stem cell research company based in San Diego. He and his co-workers told the hockey legend's family they would perform a revolutionary stem cell treatment if Murray and his siblings would send Gordie to Mexico.

FDA regulations at the time stated any stem cell treatment to a person who had suffered a stroke must occur six months after said stroke, Maynard explained. Mexico had less strict regulations, and the Howe family was ready to take a chance.

The Howes were out of options, and the $30,000 treatment wasn't going to cost them a dime. The risk, after studying the progressions of stem cell work, was worth it to the family.

So the Howe brothers put their father onto a plane, lifting him into his seat on a plane to Mexico.

“Today is a sad day for the Detroit Red Wings and the entire hockey world as together we mourn the loss of one of the greatest hockey players of all-time,” said Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch.  “The Red Wings organization and the National Hockey League would not be what they are today without Gordie Howe.  There is no nickname more fitting for him than “Mr. Hockey.”  He embodied on and off the ice what it meant to be both a Red Wing and a Detroiter. He was tough, skilled, and consistently earned success at the highest level. His achievements are numerous and his accomplishments immeasurable.  It is truly a blessing to have had him both in our organization and our city for so many years.  He will be deeply missed.”

“Gordie Howe was an incredible ambassador for the game of hockey,” said Red Wings general manager Ken Holland. “He was as fierce and competitive as they come but away from the rink he was truly engaging and personable and always enjoyed his interaction with the fans. Gordie set the standard for this franchise during the Original Six era, winning four Stanley Cups, capturing numerous awards and setting an abundance of league records. We will miss Mr. Hockey, who was the greatest Red Wing of all time. Our deepest sympathies go out to Mark, Marty, Murray, Cathy and the rest of the Howe family during this difficult time.”

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder released this statement:

“Gordie Howe will forever be remembered as ‘Mr. Hockey,’ but he could also be known as ‘Mr. Detroit’ or ‘Mr. Michigan’ for the years of thrills he gave Red Wings fans in our state and around the world. He represented Detroit with pride and class.  In a city that cherishes its many champions, Howe was perhaps the most beloved.

“Howe became universally respected for his tough play and durability in a career that spanned decades, setting records that stood for years, and some that likely will never be broken. After eventually hanging up the skates, Howe continued living in Michigan and served as an ambassador for his sport and Detroit.

“His legacy in Michigan will carry on through the Gordie Howe International Bridge, which will stand as a united symbol between his home country and his adopted country, representing the teamwork he always embodied.

“Sue and I extend our condolences to the Howe family, and also a heartfelt thank you to a legend who epitomized the word ‘champion’ on and off the ice.”

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman released this statement:

“All hockey fans grieve the loss of the incomparable Gordie Howe.

“A remarkable athlete whose mastery of our sport was reflected by the longevity of his career and by his nickname, ‘Mr. Hockey,’ Gordie’s commitment to winning was matched only by his commitment to his teammates, to his friends, to the Red Wings, to the city of Detroit and – above all – to his family. His devotion to Colleen through her illness and the fact that he extended his playing days into a fifth decade so he could play with his sons are only two examples of that true priority in his life.

“Gordie’s greatness travels far beyond mere statistics; it echoes in the words of veneration spoken by countless players who joined him in the Hockey Hall of Fame and considered him their hero.

“Gordie’s toughness as a competitor on the ice was equaled only by his humor and humility away from it. No sport could have hoped for a greater, more-beloved ambassador.

“On behalf of the generations who were thrilled by his play and those who only know of his legend, and on behalf of all the young people and teammates he inspired, we send heartfelt wishes of condolence, comfort and strength to the Howe family and to all who mourn the passing of this treasured icon of our game.”