By Noel Janis
|Howe with sons Marty (left) and Mark (far right), and friend and teammate Bill Gadsby. |
-- An emotional Gordie Howe choked back tears moments after seeing for the first time the 12-foot tall, white bronze statue of his likeness that now stands guard just inside the west entrance at Joe Louis Arena.
"I guess 'Grade A' wasn't adequate for how to say thank you," Howe said. "But that's how I feel, like I'm a graduate from a university, because I feel I've achieved what I had set out to do, twice."
Tuesday afternoon, Red Wings owners Mike and Marian Ilitch unveiled an extraordinary statue of Howe on the Joe Louis Arena concourse. The statue sits just inside the Gordie Howe Entrance, which was renamed in honor of him last October.
"Gordie Howe set a standard of greatness with his play that I've always tried to uphold as the owner of this storied franchise," Mike Ilitch said. "Gordie was the greatest player of his era and his grittiness on the ice embodied the hard-working spirit of Detroiters. I felt it was important to honor all that he has meant to this franchise and the city of Detroit."
Composed of white bronze with integrated glass chips to simulate the surface of the ice, the impressive statue stands over six-feet tall from the base to the top of Howe's head and measures over 12 feet long. The statue weighs approximately 1,500 pounds and the base an additional 3,000 pounds. The sides of the base are constructed from high-polished black granite etched with details of Howe's career statistics.
"I think it's great. I think it's a lot of detail work" friend and former Wings teammate Bill Gadsby said. "I thought it was well deserved, you know, Gordie Howe, he did everything right. He'd come to play every night. He's the best I've ever played against and with.
"It was nice to be invited when things like this happen and you know the man pretty good and, played against him and played with him so it was well deserved for a guy like him."
Artist Omri Amrany was commissioned by the Red Wings to create the statue. He is the same artist who created the six stainless steel statues of former great Detroit Tigers' players at Comerica Park in 2000.
Self-taught Amrany studied traditional techniques of stone-carving in Italy and worked in Israel before moving to the U.S.
Amrany has commissioned statues across the U.S. including statues of Ervin Magic Johnson at Michigan State University and Michael Jordan outside the United Center in Chicago. To learn more about Amrany's works visit AmranyRotblatt.com
For more photos of Tuesday's event, click on Gordie Howe photo gallery