Adding to an array of honors that recognize his many contributions to the sport of hockey, Mark Howe has been selected to receive the 2016 Lester Patrick Trophy along with ECHL co-founder Pat Kelly.
Howe will accept the award as part of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame induction celebration on Wednesday, Nov. 30, in Philadelphia.
The Trophy recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to hockey in the United States. With his selection, Howe adds to a spectacular legacy that already includes enshrinement in the Hockey Hall of Fame, United States Hockey Hall of Fame, and Flyers Hall of Fame as well as the retirement of his number by the Flyers.
Mark Howe's legendary father, the late "Mr. Hockey" Gordie Howe was an early recipient of the Lester Patrick Trophy, earning the honor in 1967.
"I remember being at the ceremony in New York when Dad received his Lester Patrick award many years ago. To receive an award for doing what you have a passion for is very special. The love of hockey was passed on to me from my parents and I am grateful for all that they did. Without their devotion and guidance, this day would not be possible. To be awarded the Lester Patrick Award is truly an honor," Howe said.
In earning the honor, Howe becomes the sixth Lester Patrick Trophy recipient who spent an extensive portion of his career with the Flyers. Previous winners include Ed Snider (1980), Fred Shero (1980), Bob Clarke (1980), Keith Allen (1988) and Paul Holmgren (2014).
The entire Howe family has long been active in promoting youth hockey and operating hockey clinics, both in the United States and Canada. Born and raised in Michigan, Mark Howe represented silver medalist Team USA in the 1972 Olympics at age 16, becoming the youngest hockey player to earn an Olympic medal. Internationally, he also played in the 1974 Summit Series against the Soviet Union and represented Team USA at the 1981 Canada Cup.
In the early years of his professional playing career, Howe blossomed quickly into a high-scoring left winger in the World Hockey Association (WHA). Most notably, he ranked as the WHA's all-time leading scorer in the playoffs before the league merged with the National Hockey League in 1979. At age 25, he made a positional switch and became a full-time defenseman.
During his decade-long career with the Flyers, Howe was a three-time finalist for the Norris Trophy. After finishing his playing days with the Detroit Red Wings, he began a long and successful career working for the Red Wings and becoming one of the sport's most respected pro scouts.
The winner of the 2014 Lester Patrick Trophy, Holmgren, was Howe's teammate with the Flyers and later his assistant coach and head coach. Now the Flyers team president, Holmgren believes that Howe's contributions on and off the ice make him a worthy recipient of the honor.
"This is a tremendous and well-deserved honor for Mark," Holmgren said. "As a player, Mark was arguably the best defenseman in Flyers history. A unique blend of skill, work ethic, competitiveness and a terrific skater with a wicked wrist shot. Although not a vocal guy in the dressing room, Mark led by example and was a beloved teammate. Congratulations Mark!"
In addition to the six Lester Patrick Trophy recipients whose NHL legacies are primarily associated with the Philadelphia Flyers, several other award recipients also made contributions to the Flyers organization. This list includes inaugural Flyers general manager Bud Poile (1989 honoree), former Flyers chief counsel, executive vice president and chief operating officer Gil Stein (1993), and former Flyers play-by-play broadcaster Mike "Doc" Emrick (2004).