Mark Howe Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Speech
November 14, 2011
Thank you. First I would like to congratulate Doug, Joe and Eddie on their great careers and their induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Thank you to Mike Emrick and the induction committee for this tremendous honor. Thank you to Mr. Billy Hay and the Hockey Hall of Fame staff for making this week a week that will last a lifetime.
HOCKEY HALL OF FAMER
Flyers Memories & Tributes
I would like to pass along my thoughts and prayers to the families who lost their loved ones in the tragic plane crash of September 7, 2011. I hope the families of these victims will receive full compensation for their losses, which is not the case at this time. I find this morally upsetting. The families have suffered the loss of their loved ones, and should not have to suffer financially as well. The hockey world should do all that it can to make things right.
I’m very honored and happy to have Maureen McCrimmon here with me tonight. It makes my evening complete. Thank you, Maureen.
As a young boy growing up, I was often in the Red Wing locker room sitting next to Alex DelVecchio, Norm Ullman, and Bill Gadsby. I was often a stickboy for Johnny Bower and the Leafs. And my favorite was when Bobby Hull and the Blackhawks came to town. It was like Christmas. I looked up to these gentlemen and many of their peers. They helped to inspire the dream of playing professional hockey.
There are a number of people who have influenced my development and impacted my life in a positive way. My junior coach Carl Lindstrom, Bobby Goodenow, Robbie Ftorek and the 72 Olympic team, Toronto Marlies coach George Armstrong, and Eddie Van Impe.
I would like to thank the WHA for giving me my start in pro hockey. It gave me the opportunity to play along with such passionate players as Rich Preston, Ron Grahame, Dave Keon and to play for one of the finest people I’ve ever met in the game in coach Bill Dineen. It also gave me the opportunity to play six years alongside my brother and my father, a memory I will always cherish.
In 1982, Ed Snider, Keith Allen and Bob McCammon brought me to Philadelphia. From the beginning, it was as if I was born to be a Flyer. And although I wanted to slash him a few times, I want to thank Mike Keenan for helping me to raise my bar. There were many character players who contributed so much to this day. Brian Propp, Dave Poulin, Hexy, Toch, Ronnie Sutter, Dave Brown and so many others. I want to give special thanks to my defense partners Glenn Cochrane, Kjell Samuelsson, and my dear friend Brad McCrimmon. The Orange and Black will be a part of me forever.
Mr. & Mrs. Ilitch, Jimmy D and Bryan Murray gave me the opportunity to end my career in the uniform my father so proudly wore for 25 years – something I dreamt of as a young child. I am truly blessed to be a proud member of one of the best organizations in all of sport for the past 19 years.
This honor means so much to me because I have my family and friends here to share this great moment with me. Although I’ve been separated for a number of years now, I would be remiss not to thank Ginger for bringing our three wonderful children into this world and for the commitment she made to them as their mother. I want to thank my sister Cathy for the sacrifices she made when she was young, being dragged to all those hockey rinks so she could watch her brothers play hockey. My brother Murray, I’m so glad you quit playing hockey and became a doctor. Now you can try to ease the aches and pains of your father and your two brothers. A combined 66 years of pro hockey is a lot of aches and pains and bumps and bruises. And Marty, you are so much a part of this evening. We were teammates for 19 of my first 21 years of hockey. You looked out for me, you protected me. You’re my big brother and my best friend. I love you all. Sharon, you’re such a loving and caring person. You make me feel proud, confident and good about myself. You love me for the person that I am, and yes, I love you too.
Travis, Azia and Nolan – I know exactly how you feel right now because I watched my father be inducted into the Hall of Fame back in 1972. There’s so much love there, I know you guys know it. The three of you are the most important people in my life. I am so proud to be your father. I love you all so very, very much.
To my mother – oh, I wish you could have been here today. Somehow though, I think she knew this day would happen. You’ve dedicated your life to your husband, your children, and to enriching the lives of so many others. You taught me the difference between right and wrong, you drove countless miles to arenas, you built rinks in the yard, you taught me how to deal with being the son of Gordie Howe, and how to set my own bar and expectations. You were always there for me, and I will never, ever, ever forget you.
I guess there’s one person left to thank in this building. I’m not going to thank you for being my linemate for six years. I’m not going to thank you for elbowing the guy who may have taken a dirty shot at me. I’m not going to thank you for being the greatest hockey player ever. I want to thank you for being the husband, the father and the person that you are. You are the role model by which I try to lead my life, and I am so proud to call you my dad. I don’t know if you remember this, Dad, or not, but just after you retired, the key word is “after” I retired 16 years ago, you mentioned that you wished I would have worn your No. 9 Red Wings jersey for just one game. I said your timing was pretty bad. You’ve never asked me for anything ever in your lifetime, so I’d like to honor your request at this time on a much bigger stage. Dad, I love you. Thank you.