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A by-the-numbers look at Howe's legacy

by Staff Writer / Detroit Red Wings

Gordie Howe owned the NHL career marks for games played, goals, assists and points when he retired at age 52.
Gordie Howe turns 80 Monday. It's been nearly three decades since "Mr. Hockey" played his last NHL game -- April 12, 1980, when the Montreal Canadiens completed a three-game sweep of Howe and the Hartford Whalers with a 4-3 overtime victory at the Hartford Civic Center.

Howe owned the NHL career marks for games played, goals, assists and points when he retired at age 52. The scoring marks have been eclipsed; the games played mark is still his. And it's safe to say there will never be another Gordie Howe.

Howe's legend is so immense that his skills as a hockey player are often overshadowed. Here's a look at just a few of his accomplishments.

* Howe won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's top scorer six times, the most of anyone in the pre-Wayne Gretzky era (Gretzky had 10; Howe and Mario Lemieux are next with six). The last one came in 1962-63, when he turned 35 (Gretzky won his last scoring title at 33; Lemieux's last one came when he was 31). Howe finished in the top five in the NHL in points an amazing 20 consecutive seasons; counting 1969-70, he had 21 consecutive top-10 finishes.

* He's the only player to score 100 points in a season after turning 40. Howe was third in the NHL with 103 points (44 goals, 59 assists) in 1968-69, reaching triple figures just after he turned 41. It was his only 100-point season in the NHL.

* Howe had a streak of 15 seasons (1955-56 through 1969-70) in which he had 40 or more assists -- no mean feat, considering that he played most of that time in an era when goals were scarce and the schedule was shorter.

* Howe set the Wings' franchise record with five game-winning goals in a month -- he did it in February 1952 and again in January 1958. Henrik Zetterberg matched the record in February 2007, getting five in an eight- game stretch. Johan Franzen has equaled the mark this month, getting his fifth in Tuesday night's 2-1 win against St. Louis.

* Unless Gretzky has a son who becomes an NHL player, Gordie and sons Mark and Marty figure to hold the League mark for most points by a father-son combination for a while. Together, the Howes have 1,000 goals and 1,623 assists for 2,623 points in the NHL; Gretzky's NHL scoring totals are 894-1,963-2,857.

* Howe had a "Gordie Howe hat trick" -- a goal, an assist and a fighting major in the same game -- once in his career. It happened Dec. 22, 1955, in Detroit's 3-2 victory against the Bruins at Boston Garden. Howe assisted on Real Chevrefils' power-play goal at 3:30 of the first period and tied the game at 2-2 with a goal at 18:19 of the second against Hall of Famer Terry Sawchuk. The fight came against another Hall of Famer, Boston defenseman Leo Boivin, at 4:37 of the first period.

Author: John Kreiser | Columnist

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