PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Flyers honored Hall of Fame defenseman Mark Howe on Tuesday night by retiring the No. 2 jersey he wore for 10 seasons with the team.
Howe is the Flyers' all-time leader in goals, assists and points by a defenseman, was a three-time Norris Trophy finalist and led the Flyers to Stanley Cup Final appearances in 1985 and 1987.
He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame this past November, and on Tuesday received another honor as his No. 2 joined Bernie Parent (No. 1), Barry Ashbee (No. 4), Bill Barber (No. 7) and Bobby Clarke (No. 16) in the rafters of the Wells Fargo Center.
Howe arrived in Philadelphia in a trade with the Hartford Whalers in 1982, and said not long after joining the team, "it was as if I was born to be a Flyer. The orange and black began to flow through my veins and instantly consumed my heart."
Howe also took the time to thank the patriarch of what he called the "Flyers family," team chairman Ed Snider.
"The passion for hockey and compassion for those that wore a Flyers uniform was equally displayed by Mr. Ed Snider," Howe said.
He had similar words of praise for his current employer, Red Wings owners Mike and Marian Ilitch. Howe has worked for the Wings for 19 years; he currently serves as director of pro scouting.
"In Detroit I got to play with the great Nick Lidstrom, got to wear the uniform my dad proudly wore … and got the opportunity to work for Mike and Marian Ilitch," he said. "Their passion for hockey and their compassion for those that wore the Red Wings uniform is second to none."
Howe also saluted both franchises for their support of the families that lost loved ones in the plane crash in Russia that destroyed the Yaroslavl Lokomotiv hockey team. Among those killed in the crash was Howe's defense partner in Philadelphia and Detroit, Brad McCrimmon.
Among those joining Howe for his big night were his brothers Murray and Marty, his children and granddaughter, and, of course, his father Gordie. Missing from the ceremony was Mark's mother, Colleen, who died in 2009, but her presence was felt.
"I am blessed to have my family by my side to enjoy this event," said Howe. "I know my mother is looking after me from above. I'm incredibly lucky to be able to call you family. I love you all."
Former teammates also made their presence felt in person and via video message, as a number of Howe's former teammates sent their regards, among them Dave Poulin, Ron Hextall and Steve Yzerman.
Howe also took time to thank the passionate Flyers fans.
"Over the course of 10 years I wore my No. 2 jersey in front of a sold-out Spectrum crowd," he said. "Sometimes I succeeded, sometimes I failed. But you always stood by my side. For that I thank you."
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