Gordie Howe addresses the media at Wednesday's ceremony for the dedication of the Gordie Howe Entrance at Joe Louis Arena.
DETROIT -- He made his home and a name for himself in an old barn on Grand River on the city's west side.
Although he only skated a handful of times in what was then a new modern, multi-sport arena, the building -- Joe Louis Arena -- now bears his name over the west entrance.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Red Wings honored one of the game's greats, Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony that unveiled the new Gordie Howe Entrance at Joe Louis Arena.
"It's nice to be able to honor one of our greatest hockey players," Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch said. "We're building a statute of Gordie that will be ready at the end of next season. I know that it will give me a thrill, it will give Gordie a thrill and it will give the fans a thrill. It's probably 10-15 years late, but better late then never, and it will be a powerful piece."
Howe played 25 seasons in a Red Wings uniform at Olympia Stadium, equaling 1,687 games. He scored 786 goals for Detroit and added 1,809 assists while leading the Wings to four Stanley Cup championships.
"I guess grade school never took me that far, but I wish I had the words to say thank you to the Ilitch family for how well they've treated the Howe family," Howe said. "You don't make it own your own, I don't care who you are. When I was selected an all-star, this guy and that guy helped me, the Production Line, they all helped me."
The newly named entrance is located in the west side of the building, opposite the Detroit River.
Howe did play at Joe Louis Arena, and in his second game there as a member of the Hartford Whalers -- in the 1980 All Star Game -- he received a memorable four-plus minute standing ovation as the last player introduced during the pre-game ceremonies.
"Gordie Howe was a five-tool hockey player," Wings general manager Ken Holland said. "He had size and strength. He was powerful. He was tough. He was a great skater. He had stick skills. He was a playmaker. He was a scorer. He could shoot. He had finesse with the puck. He had great hockey-sense. He had vision and creativity. Gordie was a fierce competitor. He struck fear in his opponents and instilled confidence in to his teammates."