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This Date in NHL History

Sept. 8: Gordie Howe announces retirement

Plus: Gump Worsley, Harry Lumley inducted into Hockey Hall of Fame

by John Kreiser @jkreiser7713 / Managing Editor


1971: After 25 seasons with the Detroit Red Wings, 43-year-old Gordie Howe announces his retirement and becomes a team vice president.

Howe owns the NHL career marks for games plays, goals, assists and points, but he's coming off his worst offensive season (23 goals, 52 points) since 1948-49 when he decides to reture. The Hockey Hall of Fame waives the mandatory three-year waiting period, and he's inducted in 1972.

But after two seasons off the ice, Howe returns with the Houston Aeros of the World Hockey Association, where he plays with his sons Mark and Marty. Howe spends six seasons in the WHA, the last two with the New England Whalers, before the franchise, now known as the Hartford Whalers, joins the NHL in 1979. He plays all 80 games in 1979-80, scoring 15 goals and finishing with 41 points, before retiring for good at age 52.



1972: The Soviet Union defeats Canada, 5-3, in Game 4 of the Summit Series in Vancouver.

Boris Mikhailov scores two first-period power-play goals for the Soviets, who win easily despite being outshot 41-31. Canada trails 4-1 after two periods, and the final score looks closer than the game was after Dennis Hull scores for Canada with 32 seconds remaining in the third period.

Phil Esposito, one of the Canada's leaders is unhappy when fans boo the team off the ice following the game.

"To the people across Canada, we tried. We gave it our best," he says during a postgame TV interview. "To the people who booed us, geez, all of us guys are really disheartened. We're disillusioned and disappointed. We cannot believe the bad press we've got, the booing we've got in our own building.

"I'm completely disappointed. I cannot believe it. Every one of us guys -- 35 guys -- we came out because we love our country. Not for any other reason. … We came because we love Canada."

The Soviets lead the series 2-1-1 entering the two-week break before Games 5-8 are played in Moscow.


1980: The Hockey Hall of Fame inducts goaltenders Gump Worsley and Harry Lumley, forward Lynn Patrick and longtime American Hockey League president Jack Butterfield.


1982: Yvan Cournoyer, Rod Gilbert, Norm Ullman, and Emile Francis are inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Cournoyer wins the Stanley Cup 10 times during his career with the Montreal Canadiens; none of the other inductees win the Cup once. Gilbert is the Rangers' all-time leader in goals (406) and points (1,021), most of them come while playing for Francis, who rebuilds the Rangers in the 1960s and coaches them into the mid-1970s. Ullman, whose career is divided between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs, is the fifth player in NHL history to reach 1,000 points and finishes his 20-year career with 1,410 points (490 goals) in 1,229 games.

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