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Gordie Howe among great losses in hockey world

Mr. Hockey, Ed Snider, Bill Gadsby among game's greats to die during 2016

by John Kreiser @jkreiser7713 / Managing Editor

The end of the year offers the chance to reflect on the previous 12 months.

For all of the tremendous accomplishments that took place, 2016 also was defined by those we lost, including hockey icon Gordie Howe, two members of the Hockey Hall of Fame who were teammates of Howe with the Detroit Red Wings and one of the longest-tenured owners in the NHL.

Here's a look at some of those in the hockey world who left us during the past year:


Gordie Howe 
June 10, 2016 (Age 88)
Seldom has a nickname fit anyone better than Mr. Hockey fit Howe. As the only player whose NHL career spanned five decades, Howe played hockey longer and better than anyone in the history of the sport. In his NHL-record 26 seasons, Howe played in 1,767 games (1,687 with the Detroit Red Wings), and took a regular shift as a 52-year-old with the Hartford Whalers in 1979-80 before retiring with 801 goals and 1,850 points; each was an NHL record until Wayne Gretzky surpassed both marks. Gretzky, who idolized Howe in his youth, was an NHL rookie during Howe's final season.

Howe also realized a father's dream by skating on the same team with two of his sons. He joined Mark Howe and Marty Howe with the Houston Aeros of the World Hockey Association in 1973, and all three were part of the Hartford Whalers when they were one of four teams admitted to the NHL in 1979.

But Howe was more than just his numbers, as impressive as they were; he won the Stanley Cup four times, the Hart and Art Ross trophies six times each, and finished in the top five in scoring for 20 consecutive seasons. His on-ice toughness was the stuff of legend, but off the ice he was the personification of hockey to fans of all ages, many of whom never saw him play in person. He was the perfect ambassador for hockey and the NHL, approachable, humble and down to earth. Mr. Hockey describes him to a T. | Full obituary




Bill Dineen
Dec. 10, 2016 (Age 84)
Dineen had a connection with Howe: he played with him on two Cup-winning teams in Detroit and later coached all three Howes with Houston of the World Hockey Association. He also coached Mark Howe with the Philadelphia Flyers. Dineen's time in Philadelphia lasted less than two seasons and was his only time behind the bench in the NHL. But he won two championships in the WHA and coached the Adirondack Red Wings of the American Hockey League to the Calder Cup in 1986 and 1989. Three of his sons, Kevin, Gord and Peter, played in the NHL. Kevin Dineen, who played for his father with Philadelphia from 1991-93, scored 355 goals in 1,188 regular-season games. | Full obituary


Benny Woit
Dec. 7, 2016 (Age 88)
Woit, a defensive defenseman, spent five full seasons and parts of two others in the NHL during the 1950s, mostly with the Detroit Red Wings. He never had more than three goals or 11 points in a season and finished with seven goals and 33 points in 334 games. Woit was a regular on three Stanley Cup-winning teams with the Red Wings (1952, 1954, 1955). His last NHL game came with the Chicago Blackhawks during the 1956-57 season, but he played with a number of minor league teams until retiring after the 1968-69 season.


Marek Svatos 
Nov. 5, 2016 (Age 34)
Svatos, a right wing, spent most of his seven NHL seasons with the Colorado Avalanche, who selected him in the seventh round (No. 227) in the 2001 NHL Draft. He had 100 goals and 172 points in 344 NHL games, the first 316 with Colorado. His best NHL season came in 2005-06 when he had 32 goals and 50 points in 61 games as a rookie before a shoulder injury ended his season. He also had 26 goals in 62 games in 2007-08 before missing the final 16 games because of a knee injury. Svatos finished his NHL career with the Ottawa Senators in 2010-11. | Full obituary


Bob McCord
Oct. 21, 2016 (Age 82)
McCord, a defenseman, spent nearly a decade in the minor leagues before joining the Boston Bruins in 1963-64. His best offensive season came in 1968-69, when he had four goals and 21 points in 69 games for the Minnesota North Stars. However, he spent most of the next six seasons in the Western Hockey League, the last five with Denver; his only NHL action during that time was a 43-game stint with the St. Louis Blues in 1972-73. He finished his NHL career with 10 goals and 68 points in 316 games.


Matti Hagman 
Oct. 11, 2016 (Age 61)
Hagman, a center, was the first player born and trained in Finland to appear in the NHL. The Boston Bruins selected him in the sixth round (No. 104) in the 1975 NHL Draft. He joined the Bruins in 1976-77 and had 11 goals and 28 points in 75 games. He played 237 NHL games for the Bruins and Edmonton Oilers, finishing with 145 points (56 goals, 89 assists), and had seven points (five goals, two assists) in 20 Stanley Cup Playoff games. He also played more than 400 games in Liiga, Finland's top pro league, and helped HIFK win the league championship in 1980 and 1983. He played for Finland in the IIHF World Championship four times, in the Canada Cup three times and the 1976 Innsbruck Olympics. His son Niklas Hagman played 770 NHL games from 2001-12. | Full obituary


Walter Bush 
Sept. 22, 2016 (Age 86)
Bush was the primary founder of the Minnesota North Stars and a key figure in USA Hockey for decades. He also played a major role in the introduction of women's hockey to the Olympics. He won the Lester Patrick Trophy in 1973 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder in 2000. He's also a member of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame (1980) and the IIHF Hall of Fame (2009). | Full obituary


Richie Dunn
Sept. 20, 2016 (Age 59)
Dunn was undrafted coming out of junior hockey but signed with the Buffalo Sabres as a free agent in 1977. He became a regular on Buffalo's defense in 1979 and went on to play 483 NHL games, 327 of them with the Sabres. His best offensive season came with Buffalo in 1980-81, when he had 49 points (seven goals, 42 assists) in 79 games. He spent one season with the Calgary Flames and two with the Hartford Whalers before returning to Buffalo in 1985, playing a handful of game with the Sabres but spending most of his final four pro seasons with Rochester, their American Hockey League affiliate. Dunn finished his NHL career with 36 goals and 176 points; he also had three goals and 18 points in 36 Stanley Cup Playoff games. | Full obituary


Bob Dailey 
Sept. 7, 2016 (Age 63)
Dailey, a 6-foot-5, 220-pound, hard-shooting defenseman, was taken by the Vancouver Canucks in the first round (No. 9) of the 1973 NHL Draft and stepped right into a full-time role with seven goals and 24 points in 76 games as a 20-year-old. His best seasons came after he was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers on Jan. 20, 1977. Dailey had NHL career highs of 21 goals, 57 points and a plus-45 rating) in 1977-78 and was a regular until he shattered his ankle 12 games into the 1981-82 season, forcing him to retire at age 29. Dailey played in two NHL All-Star Games and finished his career with 325 points (94 goals, 231 assists) in 561 NHL games, as well as 46 points (12 goals, 34 assists in 63 Stanley Cup Playoff games. | Full obituary


Norman Kwong 
Sept. 3, 2016 (Age 86)
Kwong, a star in the Canadian Football League with the Edmonton Eskimos, was one of a group of six businessmen who bought the Atlanta Flames and moved them to Calgary in 1980. He was part of the ownership group in 1989, when the Flames won their first Stanley Cup championship, and remained with the franchise until selling his stake in the team in 1994.


Lou Fontinato 
July 3, 2016 (Age 84)
A defenseman known as "Leapin' Louie," Fontinato brought an element of toughness to the smallish New York Rangers when he arrived during the 1954-55 season. He set an NHL record in 1955-56 with 202 penalty minutes and led the League again in 1957-58 (152) and 1961-62 (167). He may have been best known for his altercations with Gordie Howe of the Detroit Red Wings; their feud came to a boil Feb. 1, 1959, when Howe broke Fontinato's nose and dislocated his jaw during a fight. Fontinato spent seven seasons with the Rangers and two with the Montreal Canadiens before retiring after the 1962-63 season with 104 points (26 goals, 78 assists) and 1,247 penalty minutes in 535 NHL games. He had two assists and 42 penalty minutes in 21 Stanley Cup Playoff games. | Full obituary


Rick MacLeish
May 30, 2016 (Age 66)
The Philadelphia Flyers acquired MacLeish in a trade with the Boston Bruins on Feb. 1, 1971, and he became one of the keys to the Flyers' success in the 1970s, a span that included back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in 1974 and 1975. MacLeish led the Flyers in goals and points in each of their two championship runs, and scored in the Flyers' 1-0 defeat of the Boston Bruins to clinch the Stanley Cup in Game 6 of the 1974 Final. Though he played for a team known as the "Broad Street Bullies," MacLeish's contributions came on offense: In 1972-73, his first full season with the Flyers, MacLeish became the first Flyers player to score 50 goals. He had six more 30-goal seasons, and his 12 hat tricks are second in Flyers history to Tim Kerr's 18. He finished his career with 759 points (349 goals, 410 assists) in 846 NHL games, as well as 54 goals and 107 points in 114 Stanley Cup Playoff games. | Full obituary


Tom Lysiak 
May 30, 2016 (Age 63)
Lysiak was the first draft choice in the history of the Atlanta Flames, who selected him with the second pick of the 1973 NHL Draft and was runner-up in voting for the Calder Trophy in 1974. Lysiak became a popular, productive player in Atlanta, where he was a fan favorite, serving as captain and playing in three NHL All-Star Games. He was stunned when the Flames sent him to the Blackhawks on March 13, 1978, as part of an eight-player trade, but soon adapted to his new home and became a leader on a team with young stars such as Denis Savard and Doug Wilson. He had 55 assists in 1980-81 and NHL career highs of 32 goals and 80 points the following season. Injuries forced him to retire after the 1985-86 season; he finished his NHL career with 843 points (292 goals, 551 assists) in 919 games, and had 63 points (25 goals, 38 assists) in 76 Stanley Cup Playoff games. | Full obituary


John Brophy 
May 23, 2016 (Age 83)
Brophy never made it to the NHL as a player but spent 18 of his 19 pro seasons as a rough-and-ready defenseman in the Eastern Hockey League, where he finished with at least 132 penalty minutes every season until retiring in 1973. He went behind the bench and finished with 1,027 victories, second to Scotty Bowman among all professional hockey coaches. Brophy coached the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1986-89, finishing with a 64-111-18 record, but enjoyed great success in the ECHL, winning three championships with Hampton Roads and retiring with numerous league coaching records. The ECHL coach of the year award was renamed the John Brophy Award in 2003. | Full obituary


Charlie Hodge 
April 16, 2016 (Age 82)
Hodge arrived in the NHL as a 21-year-old backup to Jacques Plante with the Montreal Canadiens and didn't get regular work until Plante was traded to the New York Rangers in 1963. Hodge made the Second All-Star Team in 1964 and again in 1965, when he helped the Canadiens win the Stanley Cup. But after his playing time diminished in each of the next two seasons, he was made available in the 1967 expansion draft and was selected by the Oakland Seals. He played 58 games in 1967-68, but after playing sparingly in each of the next two seasons he was taken by the Vancouver Canucks in the 1970 expansion draft and played one more season before retiring. He had 115 of his 150 NHL wins with Montreal, and despite playing his last four seasons with two NHL newcomers, he finished his career with a 2.70 goals-against average and 24 shutouts.


Ed Snider 
April 11, 2016 (Age 83)
The Philadelphia Flyers might not exist if it wasn't for Snider, who was part of a group of local businessmen that was awarded a "Second Six" expansion team by the NHL. The team cost $2 million; its new arena, dubbed the Spectrum, was a $12 million investment. When the Spectrum went into bankruptcy in the early 1970s, Snider took control, just in time for the Flyers to become one of the dominant teams of that era. They became the first expansion team to win the Stanley Cup, defeating the Boston Bruins in the 1974 Final, then won again in 1975. Their bid for a three-peat was ended by the Montreal Canadiens in the 1976 Final, and they also lost in the Cup Final in 1980, 1985, 1987, 1997 and 2010. He also created the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation, which used the sport as a base to teach inner-city children life skills and provide educational assistance. Snider was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988 and the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2011. | Full obituary


Ron Wicks
April 1, 2016 (Age 75) 
Wicks became the youngest official to work an NHL game when he was a linesman in a game at Madison Square Garden on Oct. 5, 1960. He worked as a linesman until 1964, spent three years as a referee in the minor leagues and returned to the NHL as a full-time referee in 1967. Wicks remained as a referee through the 1985-86 season, appearing in 1,067 NHL games as a referee, then the most in League history. He also worked 175 Stanley Cup Playoff games and was selected for the Stanley Cup Final five times. 


Bill Gadsby 
March 10, 2016 (Age 88)
Gadsby, a Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman, played 20 seasons in the NHL with the Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings. He already was among the toughest players in the NHL when he broke in with the Blackhawks during the 1946-47 season; he had survived a torpedo attack, nearly been hit with a falling chunk of concrete and defeated a potentially crippling disease. Gadsby had 568 points in 1,248 NHL games, prodigious production during an era when defensemen tended to stay at their own blue line, rarely joining the attack. He was selected to the First All-Star Team three times and was the first NHL defenseman to reach 500 points. The only thing he didn't do was play for a Stanley Cup winner; Gadsby went to the Final with Detroit three times in four seasons from 1962-66, but the Red Wings lost all three. He retired in 1966 and spent parts of two seasons coaching the Red Wings. | Full obituary


Andy Bathgate 
Feb. 26, 2016 (Age 83)
Bathgate developed into a star during 12 seasons with the New York Rangers (1952-64). Unfortunately his brilliance coincided with some of the Rangers' most lackluster seasons. The Rangers made the playoffs four times with Bathgate, despite his playmaking skills, booming slap shot and highly accurate wrist shot. It was a shot by Bathgate that hit Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jacques Plante in the face Nov. 1, 1959; when Plante returned to the game he was wearing a face mask. The Rangers sent Bathgate to the Toronto Maple Leafs as part of a seven-player trade on Feb. 22, 1964, and less than three months later he helped his new team win the Stanley Cup. Bathgate later played with the Detroit Red Wings and scored the first goal in the history of the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Rangers retired his No. 9 on Feb. 22, 2009. | Full obituary


Jack Riley
Feb. 3, 2016 (Age 95)
Before there was the "Miracle on Ice" at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics, there was the 1960 United States Olympic Team that Riley coached to the gold medal at Squaw Valley. The Americans defeated Canada, the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia in a span of four days with a team of amateurs from Minnesota and Massachusetts. He coached at the U.S. Military Academy from 1950-86, winning 541 games before turning the team over to associate head coach Rob Riley, his son, who stayed until 2004.


Rudy Migay 
Jan. 16, 2016 (Age 87)
Migay spent his 10 NHL seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, finishing his NHL career with 151 points (59 goals, 92 assists) in 418 games. His best season came in 1956-57, when he had NHL career highs of 15 goals and 35 points. The 5-foot-6, 150-pound center was known for his speed, puck-handling and tenacity, earning the nickname "Toy Terrier." He retired as a player in 1965 but stayed in the game as a scout, spending seven seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins and 23 with the Buffalo Sabres. His career in professional hockey lasted 48 seasons. | Full obituary


Bill Plager 
Jan. 3, 2016 (Age 70)
Bill was the youngest of three Plager brothers, all defensemen, to play for the St. Louis Blues during the franchise's early years, though he also played for the Atlanta Flames and Minnesota North Stars. In 263 NHL games, he had four goals, 38 points and 294 penalty minutes. | Full obituary

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