Detroit Red Wings players, alumni and executives are mourning the loss of Red Wings legend and NHL great Gordie Howe, who died Friday. He was 88.
Howe, known as "Mr. Hockey," played 25 seasons with Detroit from 1946-71, winning four Stanley Cup championships.
"He has been an icon not only in Detroit, but throughout the entire hockey world for as long as I can remember," Tampa Bay Lightning general manager and former Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman said Friday. "As one of the greatest players to ever play in the NHL, the majority of his career being in Detroit, it was an honor to wear the same uniform, spend time with, laugh, joke and seek advice from him. Gordie's humility and kindness left a permanent impression on me, greatly influencing how I tried to conduct myself throughout my career."
Yzerman also acknowledged Howe's impact on the game of hockey around the world.
Video: Mitch Albom on Gordie Howe's impact in Detroit
"His impact on the Red Wings organization is still evident today," Yzerman said. "I travel the world and constantly hear stories from people who love the Wings and share memories of the glory days when Gordie and his teammates ruled the NHL. For all players fortunate enough to play for the Wings, we should take time to thank and honor Gordie, for he is a significant reason why Detroit is such a special place to play."
Ted Lindsay, Howe's linemate on the famed "Production Line," told The Detroit News he hadn't spoken to Howe in three years, because his bad health and dementia was taking away the Howe he really knew and loved.
"The last few years, that wasn't Gordie, that wasn't him," Lindsay said. "It was about three years ago when I remember talking to him. It was Gordie."
Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch also spoke about Howe's impact on the Detroit community and his impact on hockey everywhere.
"The Red Wings organization and the National Hockey League would not be what they are today without Gordie Howe," Ilitch said. "There is no nickname more fitting for him than 'Mr. Hockey.' He embodied on and off the ice what it meant to be both a Red Wing and a Detroiter. He was tough, skilled, and consistently earned success at the highest level."
Howe made regular visits to Detroit and kept up with the Red Wings as best he could, despite his deteriorating health. Captain Henrik Zetterberg shared memories of his encounters with Howe as a young player in the NHL.
"He was always close to a joke," Zetterberg said. "So for me as a young guy then, not knowing that he was joking was funny. He always told me to shoot more often; if you don't shoot you don't score. Both he and [Lindsay] spent a lot of time here and that's one of the things that makes it so special here."
Goaltender Jimmy Howard said there will be a void in the dressing room without Howe there.
"We were used to seeing Mr. Howe around the room, so not being able to see him every once in a while is going to be strange, it's going to be different," Howard said. "He was such a great man and touched a lot of people in this hockey world. He's going to be missed dearly."