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This Date in NHL History

Feb. 5: Gordie Howe plays in his final All-Star Game

Plus: Dick Irvin first NHL coach to win 500 games; Ron Francis second player with 500 or more points for two teams

by John Kreiser @jkreiser7713 / Managing Editor

Gordie Howe's Final All-Star Game

Gordie Howe's 23rd and final All-Star appearance

Feb 5, 1980: 51-year-old Howe returns to where it began: Detroit's Joe Louis Arena, for his 23rd ASG, outscoring a 19-year-old Wayne Gretzky.

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1980: Gordie Howe receives one of the greatest spontaneous ovations ever given in sports when he steps onto the ice for the 1980 NHL All-Star Game at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.

The crowd of 21,002, the largest to see an NHL game at that time, stands when Howe, the final player to be introduced, steps onto the ice. The ovation lasts for four minutes, with fans chanting "Gordie, Gordie," and continuing to roar until the singers for the national anthems are introduced.

It's Howe's 23rd and final All-Star Game, but the first in which he represents a team other than the Red Wings. He retires in 1971 but makes a comeback two years later with the Houston Aeros of the World Hockey Association. Howe plays six seasons in the WHA, the final two with the Hartford Whalers, and returns to the NHL when the Whalers are one of four teams that join the NHL in 1979.

Howe doesn't get a goal, but steals the puck and sets up the final goal of the game, by Real Cloutier, in the Wales Conference's 6-3 win against the Campbell Conference.

The game also signals the changing of the guard; the Campbell Conference includes a 19-year-old center named Wayne Gretzky who grows up idolizing Howe and goes on to break most of his offensive records.



1944: Rookie Ted Kennedy sets an NHL record by scoring three power-play goals, giving the Toronto Maple Leafs a 3-1 victory against the Detroit Red Wings at Maple Leaf Gardens. It's Kennedy's first NHL hat trick.


1950: Dick Irvin becomes the first coach in NHL history to win 500 games when the Montreal Canadiens defeat the Boston Bruins 5-3 at the Forum. He retires after the 1955-56 season with 692 wins, 431 of them with the Canadiens.


1989: Steve Yzerman reaches the 50-goal mark for the second straight season when he scores twice in Detroit's 6-2 road win against the Winnipeg Jets. After scoring exactly 50 goals in 1987-88, Yzerman finishes the 1988-89 season with a career-high 65.

Video: Steve Yzerman was Detroit's captain for 19 seasons


1991: Dave Taylor has two assists in the Los Angeles Kings' 3-2 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Spectrum to become the 29th NHL player to reach 1,000 points. The milestone comes in Taylor's 930th NHL game.


1994: Peter Bondra scores four goals on four shots in a span of 4:12 during the first period of the Washington Capitals' 6-3 win against the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning. Bondra sets an NHL record for fastest four goals by one player. He scores his fifth goal of the game late in in the second period.


1997: Ron Francis becomes the second player in NHL history to have 500 or more points with two teams. Francis has two assists in Pittsburgh's 6-3 road win against the Montreal Canadiens, giving him 500 points with the Penguins. Francis comes to the Penguins after putting up 821 points with the Hartford Whalers.

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