One was his father, Gordie Howe, the legendary "Mr. Hockey." But the other was a somewhat lesser-known figure, a woman affectionately known as "Mrs. Hockey" -- Mark's mother, Colleen Howe.
"My mom had a lot more to do with me being a pro than my dad," Mark told NHL.com.
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"I got credit for a lot of things she made happen," Gordie Howe told NHL.com. "She is very creative and did a hell of a lot for the family."
That started with helping raise a future Hall of Fame player.
While Gordie Howe was emerging as hockey's biggest star with the Red Wings, it was Colleen who was in charge of driving Mark and his older brother Marty to all their hockey events. Since the brothers were born only 15 months apart, they generally played on the same teams.
"My mom did all the driving to the arenas," Mark said. "Marty and I, we used to play on average 95-100 games every year as kids and we'd practice three days a week on top of that. We spent most of our time … we'd have 25 or 28 league games, so we spent most of our time driving to Toronto, lots of different cities in southern Ontario. My mom and my younger brother and sister spent a lot of time riding in the car."
Not that Mark's famous father had zero influence on his career. As a kid, though, Gordie was just someone he'd see on TV or between trips to the rink. However, the example father set was not lost on his son.
"My dad was the example by the way he conducted himself on and off the ice," Mark said. "Mostly off the ice. The person that he is, the way he interacted with people -- and still does to this day. The way that he conducted himself everywhere he went. He always had a lot of respect for everybody and interacted and had a great time with all his fans, and people he meets in general."
However, Mark says it was Colleen, who died in 2009, who did the majority of the heavy lifting.
"My mom was basically in charge of trying to teach us right from wrong," Mark said. "Like any young teenager you get in a little trouble and mom was there to put you back in line and keep you on track. As far as my hockey career, I learned a lot from my dad from watching and learning. My mom did 99 percent of the leg work. And for me she had a lot more to do with it than my dad."
Contact Adam Kimelman at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK