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Mark Howe joins Mr. Hockey in the rafters

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

Mark Howe spent 10 NHL seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers. Now the Red Wings' director of pro scouting will have his Flyers No. 2 retired in a pre-game ceremony next week. (Getty Images Archives)
For Mark Howe, next week’s pre-game event planned prior to the Red Wings’ game in Philadelphia, is icing on the cake.

And why wouldn’t it?

By reaching the pinnacle of an NHL player’s career with his enshrinement into the Hockey Hall of Fame this season, Howe joined the elite of his profession. That experience, coupled with his dad’s attendance at the ceremony, was the crème de la crème.

So when Philadelphia owner Ed Snider called Howe and asked the former defenseman if he was fine with having his black-and-orange No. 2 raised to the rafters at the Wells Fargo Center, Howe said, “Sure.”

But next Tuesday’s ceremony was nearly nixed by the league, which apparently prohibits pre-game events on the ice once the calendar flips to March.

“Ed told me that the league told him ‘no’, but they really wanted to do this with the Red Wings in town,” said Howe, the Wings’ director of pro scouting.

As a courtesy, the Flyers put in a call to the Wings’ front office just to double-check if they were OK with honoring the former player, which they both share in common.

Of course, the Wings didn’t have any objection to seeing history when Gordie and Mark Howe becomes just the second father-son tandem in any professional sport to both have their numbers retired. Bobby and Brett Hull were the first father and son to have their jersey numbers retired.

Howe, 56, played for three NHL clubs, including the Wings from 1992-95. But it was his 10 seasons in Philadelphia where Howe made a name for himself. All told, Howe amassed 1,246 career points in 22 professional seasons. His 742 NHL points ranks 13th among Hall of Fame defensemen.

Howe is the 62nd NHL defensemen to enter the Hall, and just the second American-born blue liner – joining New York Rangers great Brian Leetch – to be enshrined. And Howe’s number will be retired six-days shy of the 40th anniversary commemorating the night when his famous father’s No. 9 became the first digit so honored by the Wings’ franchise.

“It’ll be a special night, for sure,” Mark Howe said.

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