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What they've said about Mr. Hockey

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT – Today is truly a sad day, not only in Hockeytown, but around the hockey world, especially for those who got to know Gordie Howe during his 88 years.


An incredibly competitive spirit, Mr. Hockey is known global as an ambassador for the game of hockey. Whether it was giving an opponent the business in the corners or playfully teasing a young fan he had just met, Gordie Howe was a true professional in every sense of the imagination.

In 2007, the Red Wings and Olympia Entertainment produced a book “Nine: A Salute to Mr. Hockey Gordie Howe” that captured the man, the hockey icon, and the father to an amazing family.

In it, more than 80 members of the Hockey Hall of Fame shared short stories and memories from their time spent with Mr. Hockey. Here are their stories:
Gadsby

BILL GADSBY
Defenseman, 1946-66
1970 HOF Inductee

“When I was with New York, I knew Detroit was trying to make a deal for me, a trade. I took Gordie in the corner one night when we were playing, and he said, ‘Hey big guy, lighten up a little bit, you’re coming here tomorrow.’ And I looked at him and said, ‘Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.’ But it’s true. I was walking off the ice after the game, and our general manager let me in the door and said, ‘I just made a trade for you to Detroit.’ Gordie knew about it before I did.

“He was a good teammate and a great friend. He did everything right on the ice; he didn’t have too many bad nights. He back-checked, he killed penalties, he scored goals, he set-up goals. The best I ever played against.”

Kelly

RED KELLY
Defenseman, 1947-67
1969 HOF Inductee

“There was a fight one time down in Montreal. Gordie and Rocket never played against each other. Usually, they had the checking line against the Richard line and they’d have a checking line against the Howe-Lindsay-Abel line. So they never got on the ice too often against each other. But they did this one night in Montreal. And for some reason or another, they came together in the corner and the elbows got up a little high and the puck came out of there down to the other end. They came again together in the corner, and they dropped their sticks and started to fight. King Clancy was the referee, and all of us players were in a circle. Clancy came in and said quickly, ‘Let ‘em go! Let ‘em go!’ He wanted to see who was the best, I guess.

“They both landed a couple blows, and Rocket fell forward, slipped and went down. He was at the feet of all the players who were in the circle around the fight. And he came up and out of that circle and Sid Abel was there, and said, ‘What, Rocket? Did you finally meet your match?’ Boldly, Rocket broke Sid’s nose with a punch. There wasn’t a decision there, but it looked like an even match to me. You couldn’t say one was better than the other in that fight.”

Lindsay

TED LINDSAY
Left Wing, 1944-65
1966 HOF Inductee

“He was the best hockey player I’d ever seen. He did everything well. He was good offensively; he was good defensively. And in those days, you had to fight your own battles, and he could do that job too. No one bothered him too much.

“We all had talent. Sid was our father. We were his young legs; we could cover more ice than he could at the time. It was a good association. We all knew what each other were doing on the ice, and that’s why it worked out so good.”

Delvecchio

ALEX DELVECCHIO
Center, 1950-74
1977 HOF Inductee

“Playing with Gordie attributed a heck of a lot to my career. He was always very helpful, coming up with pointers and what you’re doing, maybe a little bit wrong. He was always helpful and that’s always critical. He had everything, so I guess you would say he was sharing it with the rest of us to try and make us better.

“I can recall the guys telling me, ‘Hey, get the puck to the big guy and he’ll deliver the mail.’ He was my favorite target on the right wing. I always tried to set him up the best I could, because I knew he was going to get a goal or get us an opportunity to get us a goal.”

Ullman

NORM ULLMAN
Center, 1953-77
1982 HOF Inductee

“Needless to say, playing on a line with Gordie was great. It was great for a young player just coming into the league, who was trying to get established. You couldn’t ask for a better winger. Just walking into the Detroit locker room was pretty awesome.

“I was right there for the (Lou) Fontinato fight, 10 feet from where it was happening. It was down behind our net and Gordie was fighting for the puck, and (Fontinato) came charging in from the blue line and grabbed Gordie. I guess he figured he’d show that he was tough. He certainly got a shock.”

Bucyk

JOHN BUCYK
Left winger, 1955-78
1981 HOF inductee

“Gordie looked after me. If anyone gave me a cheap shot, he took care of them. He was my idol. I used to sit on the bench and just watch him. I never took my eyes off of him. I took the compassion that he showed the younger guys and tried to do the same thing as the captain in Boston. I got the idea of looking out for the kids from Gordie.

“I can’t say enough good things about him. He’s a friend. He had a great career and I’m sure he was proud to play with his two sons. That was something. I’m just proud to call him a close friend.”

Hall

GLENN HALL
Goalie, 1952-71
1975 HOF Inductee

“He was a lot easier to play with than he was against. He was No. 1 — the greatest hockey player I’ve ever seen. He had a touch around the net. He was strong, and you couldn’t move him from in front of the net if he wanted to be there. He was just a great hockey player. He knew the game so well; he knew what was going to happen.

“I remember when I played with him, I used to watch at the other end and he would anticipate the plays so well. He would work his way into a hole and make it easier for Teddy, who was playing with him at the time, and Dutch Reibel or Alex Delvecchio, whoever was at center. He would move into a position to give them a chance to give it to him.”

Pronovost

MARCEL PRONOVOST
Defenseman, 1949-70
1978 HOF Inductee

“When we traveled, we would take a bus to the airport. Gordie always waited in the lobby to see if everybody was on the bus because (Jack) Adams wouldn’t leave without Gordie. He would say, ‘Where in the hell is he?’ You’d say, ‘I just saw him in the lobby, Jack.’ Then Gordie would saunter over and Jack would look at him and not say a single word. Gordie did that so if we had any stragglers they wouldn’t have to incur Adams’s wrath. He definitely left others behind; he left Howie Young behind a couple of times. Gordie was always the last on the bus because he knew if a guy wasn’t there that Adams would leave.”

Boivin

LEO BOIVIN
Defenseman, 1951-70
1986 HOF Inductee

“He was tough because he could shoot with either hand, so it made him hard to contain, he was hard to stop. You could never relax when he was on the ice, because he would turn you inside-out, and the next thing you’d know, you were digging the puck out of your net. I’m sure he did it to me a few times, but he did it to everybody.

“He’s been a great model for the young players of today. He was so great and he could do things so well. Everything came natural to him. He was a super guy.”

Mahovlich

FRANK MAHOVLICH
Left winger, 1956-78
1981 HOF Inductee

“When I was a kid I received a Red Wings outfit for Christmas. At that time, Gordie and Ted Lindsay and Sid Abel were the best line, so I became a big fan of the Red Wings. When I was traded to Detroit and my brother (Pete) was already there, it was the best scenario for me having been a Red Wings’ fan growing up.

“He was such a great leader. He brought things up to a certain level and everybody followed. He gave me confidence. He made you feel part of the team, even when a rookie came in he would support the younger players. You’ll never see a player like him again with the sloped shoulders, the way he skated and his balance. He’s one of the greatest athletes that the world has ever known.”

Bathgate

ANDY BATHGATE
Right winger, 1952-68, 1970-71
1978 HOF Inductee

“It was basically that he was in such good condition in his career. And he used such a short hockey stick and used it to protect the puck, which is something a lot of us didn’t realize.

“I was up and down two times with the Rangers before I got to play against Gordie, but Edgar Laprade warned me about No. 9. He was playing center and I was 19 years old then. He told me to be careful of No. 9, because he’s good with the elbows and the stick. We called him Mr. Elbows before he was called Mr. Hockey.”

Adams

JACK ADAMS
Coach/GM, 1927-63
1959 HOF Inductee
*Sports Illustrated, March 18, 1957

“We had a flock of young kids in at training camp and I couldn’t take my eyes off a big rangy one. I called him over and asked his name. ‘Gordon Howe’, he drawled back and added, ‘But I’m no relation to that other Howe over there.’ I told the kid that if he worked hard, some day he might be as good as Syd Howe, one of our best forwards at the time. But honestly, I never dreamed that he’d do it.”

Mark Howe

MARK HOWE
Defenseman, 1973-95
2011 HOF Inductee

“There are people that are takers, and there are people who are givers. For me, I’ve always looked at my dad as a kind, gentle person, and he has such a great charisma. He has a certain gift and people respond to him. He’s very quiet and doesn’t say much. I think a lot of it probably has to do with his upbringing.

“My dad was always taught to keep your eyes open, your ears open, and your mouth shut and you’ll learn a lot. But that’s how he was born and raised. He was taught to respect everybody and everything. He does have a certain charisma that not too many people that I’ve seen have. He has an actual way with people and to me, that’s something that you’re born with. He has a way of winning over people by just being who he is. He’s like a magnet.”

Yzerman

STEVE YZERMAN
Center, 1983-2006
2009 HOF Inductee

“I was only 18 years old and just drafted by the Red Wings, and casually, I remember Gordie just walking down the hall at Joe Louis Arena. Obviously, I recognized him, every Canadian would recognize Gordie Howe. He was just very down-to-earth and said, ‘Hi, how are you doing?’ For me, I was very nervous meeting him and somewhat intimidated because I knew who he was forever, so it was just a shock to see him in-person. He’s very humble and a very easy person to be around. You’re intimidated by the name initially, but as soon as you meet him he makes you feel comfortable.

“After my first year in Detroit I played in a charity hockey game out in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Of all things, I forgot my shin pads, and Gordie let me use his. I can’t remember why he wasn’t playing, but he said, ‘Here, use mine.’ I got to use his shin pads for a day and I think I returned them some time later that summer.”

Coffey

PAUL COFFEY
Defenseman, 1980-2001
2004 HOF Inductee

“I met Gordie Howe at the 1981 All-Star Game in Washington. I came down the elevator at the hotel with my mom and dad, and Gordie was standing right there in the lobby and my mother almost fainted. He was always her favorite. I went up and politely introduced myself, and Gordie, being only how Gordie can be – very cordial – said, ‘sure I know who you are.’ I asked if I could introduce him to my mother, and I’m sure she still remembers that as well.

“Everybody knows the Gordie Howe name and what he has stood for and continues to stand for in the community and in the game. For me, getting a chance to see him was very special. There are only a few guys who can really carry the torch and be true ambassadors in their sport. Gordie is definitely one of them. Of course Wayne (Gretzky) is the other one, but who did Wayne learn from? Gordie.”

Dionne

MARCEL DIONNE
Center, 1971-89
1992 HOF Inductee

“When I played junior hockey, my three years in St. Catherines, Ontario, I wore No. 9. Back in the Original Six, there were certain numbers like 9 and 4, they were usually the best players, like the Rocket. Looking back, Gordie was the man. He was everything. I was totally impressed with him, especially looking at pictures of him playing hockey — wow, what an athlete, it’s unbelievable.

“I think what impressed me the most was when I first met him. I got drafted by the Red Wings, and then I knew exactly what the man was all about. My dad was a big man at 6-foot-1, 240-pounds, and there you are with Gordie, and everything I had heard about him was right there in front of me. The saddest part for me was he retired the year I turned pro with the Red Wings. I was really looking forward to being with him. But I was so impressed with his demeanor and his closeness to my family, so I had tremendous respect for him.”

Federko

BERNIE FEDERKO
Center, 1976-90
2002 HOF Inductee

“The fact that I’m from Saskatchewan, Gordie meant so much to anybody who grew up in Saskatchewan because we all dreamed about playing in the NHL, and he was the king of hockey.

“It was such a great thrill because I actually got to play with him in the All Star Game in Detroit in 1980. It was Wayne Gretzky’s first All Star game and Gordie’s last. And I got to play in that game. It was one of the biggest thrills I’ve ever had.

“No one played that long. I was 23 years old, and Gordie had been around forever. To be in the same locker room, to be on the same ice, to be on the same bus over to the game, it was such a thrill. I would have never dreamed of that. From growing up in Saskatchewan where everybody always talks about Gordie Howe — my father, my friends and their dads — he was the greatest hockey player to ever play. Everybody just drooled over that fact that I was getting the chance to be on the same ice with Gordie. So it was quite a thrill for me.”

Park

BRAD PARK
Defenseman, 1968-85
1988 HOF Inductee

“He was a guy who was offensively stellar, defensively sound. He played hardnosed; he was mean. As a Canadian kid, you were brought up to go out there and play hard, be offensive, and be on the ice in all key-situations.

“He set the tone for what a Canadian hockey player should be. How hard he played on the ice, how skilled he was, how tough he was and what a gentleman he was off the ice. What he showed was how you can be a great player and still be humble. There are very few players like that. Bobby Orr is like that. They were unbelievable players but still had that humility about them.

“I played with his son Marty. He was my defense partner in Boston the year before I came to Detroit. I broke in Steve Yzerman. You’d have to say Gordie, Ted Lindsay and Steve Yzerman — those are the guys that epitomize the Detroit Red Wings.”

Bowman

SCOTTY BOWMAN
Coach, 1967-2002
1991 HOF Inductee

“In his day, he was one of the bigger players in the league. There were other guys that were pretty good size, but not a lot. I don’t think the other guys could use their size as good as Gordie could. He got a lot of room for himself. He was a prototype if you’re going to make a hockey player – perfect size, great skater, and terrific eye-hand coordination. He had everything that you want in a player. He was as tough as they made them.

“(In St. Louis) we did warn our team to let him play, don’t get involved physically with him and get him after us. One of our young defenseman, Bob Plager, he caught Gordie with a pretty good check, but it was not what we were supposed to do. We paid for it later because Gordie was determined to show his strength. Looking back, it wasn’t funny at the time.”

Giacomin

EDDIE GIACOMIN
Goalie, 1959-78
1987 HOF Inductee

Alex Delvecchio would shoot the puck in and I would go out and shoot it back over the blue line. Good old Gordie said, ‘You’re going to do that one too many.’ The next time it was fired into the left corner I went out and got it, and the next thing I knew I was laying on the ice and old Mr. Elbows got me. I was down on the ice and he skated over and said, ‘I told you so.’ I’ll never forget that. I was never worried who had the puck. I was always worried about, ‘Where is No. 9? Where is he on the ice?’ ”

Murphy

LARRY MURPHY
Defenseman, 1980-2001
2004 HOF Inductee

“I got to spend a lot of time with Gordie at the (2007) NHL Awards Show in Toronto. We were supposed to fly out that morning along with Gordie, Kenny Holland and Nick Lidstrom. Then the flight was cancelled out of Detroit. It turned into an all-day event sitting at the airport and waiting. Finally, we ended up flying with Chris Ilitch on his jet to Toronto. It was quite the day, we spent the whole day together, which was probably the most time I’ve had to sit with Gordie. It was cool. It was very interesting. We got there just in time for the show, and there are Gordie and I running off to a dressing room trying to get our tuxedos on for the event.”

Devellano

JIMMY DEVELLANO
Senior Vice President
2010 HOF Inductee

“I started watching hockey back in 1952, and Gordie was just coming into his prime. I was in Toronto and when he came to town, he was definitely the guy you wanted to see. He was the star. He was the best all-around forward in the game of hockey. We see players like Gretzky and Lemuiex, who are great offensive players, but they weren’t great checking players. They didn’t have to be. But in Gordie’s day, in a six-team league, you had to be a good two-way player.”

Lynch

BUDD LYNCH
P.A. Announcer, 1985-2012
1985 Foster Hewitt Memorial Award Recipient

“My start with the Red Wings in 1949 at Olympia Stadium, announcing Jack Adams’ starting lineup – Lindsay, Abel and Howe, the Production Line – little did I realize that I would be at the mic for his whole career in the NHL until 1971.

“When I MC’ed the Fans’ Appreciation Night at Olympia at ice-level and he was given a new station wagon. As I handed him the keys and opened the rear passenger door, there was his mom and dad from Floral, Saskatchewan. Yes, he was surprised, shocked, and why not – he had tears. Truly a superstar and personal star in my book, and Howe!”

Barber

BILL BARBER
Left winger, 1972-84
1990 HOF Inductee


“I had the opportunity as a teen -- when I was 13 years old -- to go to his hockey school at his rink in Saint Clair Shores. I had the opportunity to meet him there and take a picture with him, which I had him sign a couple years ago. I didn’t know how it was going to be (at the school), and I didn’t want to disappoint him. I had big goals. Just to have the opportunity was a big thrill for me, especially as a 13-year-old coming from northern Ontario into the States. It was a lot of fun. Those memories are still embedded in my mind, when you have the opportunity at a young age to meet a great player like Gordie. It stays with you for a long, long time.”

Cournoyer

YVAN COURNOYER
Right winger, 1963-79
1982 HOF Inductee


“My first NHL game I played against Detroit. I was 19 years old. I was so lucky not to play against Gordie because Gil Tremblay was a left wing and Gordie was a right wing. So I was very happy to play against him, but on the other side. Especially with my height, I think I would have had a problem, but Gil Tremblay’s mission was to watch Gordie Howe, since he was a special player. You don’t have too many guys like him very often.
“He controlled the game. When he was on the ice, he carried the puck very nicely. In comparison, he was a guy like Bobby Orr. When you were with those guys on the ice, they just controlled the game.”

“I was very young, and back then we played a lot against each other. I think the respect was there. Maybe that’s why when we see each other now, the respect is very high. For me, you cannot say enough about Gordie. He’s really nice with the public, too. It’s what hockey needs -- a guy like that to represent the best game in the world.”

Gartner

MIKE GARTNER
Right winger, 1979-98
2001 HOF Inductee


“I met Gordie many times. But the first time I met him was when I was 18 and playing in Cincinnati, and Gordie was playing for the (New England) Whalers in the WHA.  I’m lining up for the face-off and Gordie is lining-up against me. I’m thinking that I’m on the wrong ice. That season I was fortunate to be selected to play in the ’79 WHA All-Star Game in Edmonton. Gordie was there as the Whalers’ representative. I asked him “Can I get my picture taken with you?” There we are standing in our WHA All-Star sweaters. It’s one of the favorite pictures that I have. He was always a gentleman off the ice and there’s always been a genuineness to him.

“He obviously got a tremendous amount of respect, and he could go into the corner and come out with the puck and he still had a great shot. I tried to stay away from him. I remember playing against him in Washington. We had Ben Gustafsson, who hit Gordie. It was an unwritten rule that you don’t hit Gordie, and he was upset. The next time they were in the neutral zone, Gordie throws him a flying elbow. Ben saw it coming and ducked, and Gordie wasn’t happy.”

Gilles

CLARK GILLES
Left winger, 1974-88
2002 HOF Inductee


“My first experience of meeting Gordie Howe was when my dad worked for Eaton’s in Canada. We had an Eaton’s department store in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. Gordie used to come around and sign autographs. It was some 50 years ago now. At that point, I didn’t know exactly who he was and the fact he was an NHL hockey player. Little did I know that he would turn out to be who he was and turn out to be Mr. Hockey of all things.

“I actually played against Gordie and I think my only focus before the game was to skate next to him. I was 24 in those days, and he was what, 52? My only thought process at that point was to skate with him, don’t let him touch the puck, and don’t make him mad because there’s all those stories of him with the elbows and with the stick. And I just said, ‘You know what? I’m not here to make enemies; I don’t need to hit Gordie Howe to be famous.’ So I just skated next to him, and it was a pretty calm evening the few times I did play against him.”

Flaman

FERN FLAMAN
Defenseman, 1944-61
1990 HOF Inductee


“I respected him very much so, and evidently he must have respected me. He’s a big, strong guy, but if you played him without messing around with elbows and everything, he’d do the same to you. But if you kind of did something to him, he’d do the same to you.

“He meant an awful lot to the game. I put him way up top with Gretzky and all the guys that are now playing that you hear so much about. I think that you take guys like him, Milt Schmidt, Teeder Kennedy and Ted Lindsay … they did an awful lot for the game. They were colorful players, they were tough players, who came to play every night. I respect him as one of the greatest hockey players. Not only that, but a real gentleman. Off the ice, on the ice, he always carried himself well. He represented the Wings like nobody else.”

Laperriere

JACQUES LAPERRIERE
Defenseman, 1962-74
1987 HOF Inductee


“There is one thing about Gordie that I will always remember: as a defenseman, anytime you went into the corner with him, you had to be careful. If you tried to push him around, or anything like that, the first thing you had on your nose was his elbow. He was very good at that. He was a great competitor, always a team player, and a great asset to the game.”

Keon

DAVE KEON
Center, 1959-82
1986 HOF Inductee


“I played against him in Toronto for 10 or 12 years, and then a few years when he came back to play in Hartford with Mark and Marty. It was a nice opportunity, and it was a pretty special night when we played in Detroit and the Howes started the game. That was very, very special. That was never done before, and it certainly won’t be done again, where a father and two sons play on the same line to start a game.

“I’ll remember just how much he enjoyed playing and what great skills he had, even when he was in his late 40s. He still had great skills. He just enjoyed playing hockey.”

Laprade

EDGAR LAPRADE
Center, 1945-55
1993 HOF Inductee


“He had the meanest pair of elbows I’ve ever seen. He hit me right at center ice. I just happened to be going by him there, and he stuck out that big elbow and knocked me flat on my bum. … I was just surprised because there was no reason for it.

“He filled the arenas. No matter where he played, it didn’t make any difference — a lot of them came to see Gordie. …You have a star player, or movie star, or whatever it is — that’s what attracts people in there, into the show or the rink. And that’s what attracted people in, the way he was able to play hockey. He was just a great hockey player and a great attraction to people.”

Schmidt

MILT SCHMIDT
Center, 1936-55
1961 HOF Inductee


“Art Ross, who coached and was the manager of the Boston Bruins, was telling me a story one time when Jack Adams was coaching the Detroit club. For some reason or other, they were talking about trades, and Mr. Ross told me that he said to Jack, ‘That big, skinny looking guy’ — Gordie wasn’t really built to any great extent when he first started — but Ross said, ‘That skinny guy, he’s not doing anything right now. I’m interested in him, who do you want for him?’ And Jack Adams said, ‘No, I’m gonna stick with him for a while longer.’

“Gordie was very strong and he just had a tremendous shot. He was very accurate around the net. He was a strong skater, physically strong. He was one of those players, you had to watch him, there’s no doubt about that. You couldn’t leave him alone. I think a lot of people got in trouble doing that instead of minding your own business and letting him mind his own business.”

Shutt

STEVE SHUTT
Left winger, 1972-85
199# HOF Inductee


“The one thing about Gordie is he was really an all-around player in the sense that yes, he was offensive and a goal scorer, but he could also look after himself as well. He could mix it up with the best of them.

“To a lot of Canadian kids and even American kids in the Detroit area, he was Mr. Hockey; just the longevity and the way that he played. He wasn’t the flashiest player out on the ice, but he was just there consistently, game after game. He could either score goals or beat you up in the corner, one or the other. And it didn’t matter to him which way you wanted to play. . . . I wouldn’t go in the corner with him.”

Sittler

DARRYL SITTLER
Center, 1970-85
1989 HOF inductee

“I was fortunate that when I started in the league in 1970, I got a chance to play in the old Olympia, and Gordie was playing for the Wings. That was pretty special. Obviously, as a kid growing up, following the National Hockey League, Gordie Howe was the one of the greatest players in my time. So to play against him, I kind of was in awe of him.

“The thing that grew on me was how long he played. We all know Hall of Fame guys that have had successful careers. Some guys played 20 years, I played 15, but 20 is pretty well stretching it. Gordie — he played until he was 52 years old! I kept myself in good shape, even after I retired. And I can still remember when I turned 52, and thinking, ‘holy geez, Gordie Howe was still playing pro hockey at that point in time.’ To know what your body has to go through each and every season and to play as long as he did was unbelievable.”

Smith

CLINT SMITH
Center, 1936-47
1991 HOF Inductee


“Do I remember playing against Gordie? I sure as hell do. His skill was toughest part of him. He was just a little faster than the rest of us and he could do everything just a little bit better. He was clean. You never had to worry about Gordie taking any cheap shots. As far as I’m concerned, he was one of the best hockey players I ever played against. Gordie played the game hard and he played it well. He didn’t play it dirty, but you had to be on your toes to play against Gordie.

“I think Gordie is really right up there in the first 10 (players of all-time). It’s pretty hard to put anybody ahead of anybody. At the top, they’re all at their best.”

Bower

JOHNNY BOWER
Goalie, 1945-70
1976 HOF Inductee


“There's no doubt that he's Mr. Hockey, the best player in history. I'd have to put Gordie down as the most dangerous opponent I ever faced.”



Potvin

DENIS POTVIN
Defenseman, 1973-88
1991 HOF Inductee


“We were playing in Hartford and I remember facing off against Gordie. It took everything in me not to look up at his head and focus on the jersey, much like when I played my first game in the NHL or the first game in the Montreal Forum. You just don’t want to think that you’re actually playing against Henri Richard and Gordie Howe and some of those guys. I really felt that I didn’t want to be influenced by it, but something happened in the first period that I’ll never forget.

“Gordie came in on goal and he shot the puck, of course he was a right-handed shot. The rebound came out and he then switched hands and then shot the rebound at our goalie left-handed. When we got back to the dressing room, I remember Billy Smith saying, ‘did you see what he did in the first period?’ I said, ‘yeah, I saw that. He picked up the rebound with the left hand; he’s a right-handed shooter.’ And Smitty said, ‘I had no idea that he was amphibious.’ I love that story and I love telling it when Billy is around.”

Armstrong

GEORGE ARMSTRONG
Right winger, 1949-71
1975 HOF Inductee


“It wasn’t very pleasant playing against him, because he was a great player. It’s more fun playing against bums, you know, but there was no fun playing against him, I’ll tell you. I think that Gordie Howe is in a class all of his own. There was Howe, Lindsay, Beliveau and Richard -- that’s the upper echelon of great players. Gordie is in that class of player, who will forever be remembered as the best player to play in his day.”

Beliveau

JEAN BELIVEAU
Center, 1950-71
1972 HOF Inductee


“His strength and his ability and the desire to perform the best that he could in every game made Gordie very special. I always had a lot of respect for Gordie. He was not only an asset for the Wings, but an asset for the league and for this great game of hockey.

“People kind of forget that in his second year, he had some kind of a skull fracture in a game against Toronto. After that, he kept everybody way from him. So, don’t forget, it’s very difficult when you have somebody on you all of the time. But, because of his great talent, his desire to win, and his physical strength it made him certainly one of the great hockey players.”

Goulet

MICHEL GOULET
Left winger, 1979-94
1998 HOF Inductee


“I first played against Mr. Howe in the 1978-79 season in the old WHA with the Birmingham Bulls. It is something that I will remember all of my life. We were playing against New England and after a goal I had a fight with Marty. I was 18 years old, so I didn’t know Marty, but I knew Gordie. I served my five-minutes and went back. The next time on the ice, Gordie was taking a face-off and got kicked out of the face-off circle and lined-up next to me on the wing. He looked at me and the next thing I knew I was on the ice trying to catch my breath. He said, ‘don’t touch my son.’ It wasn’t funny for me at the time because I was really in pain, but obviously you can see that he knew exactly what was going on on the ice. He was pretty amazing. He is somebody that we will be talking about for the rest of our lives -- for centuries to come.”

Moore

DICKIE MOORE
Right winger, 1951-68
1974 HOF Inductee


“In my first four or five years in the league under coach Dick Irvin, we felt that we played Detroit wrong, because our coach wanted to count the hits. A hit was putting the player, the opposition to the ice. And Detroit used to laugh at us because they had a hell of a power play with Red Kelly and Gordie, and Lindsay and Abel. They were in command, and we got beat only by getting stupid penalties.

“Gordie had those big elbows, therefore, you had to be careful when you went around him. You knew you were going to get the stick or the elbow. He caught me a few times. But Gordie never chased and looked for it. He was a natural superstar, like Jean Beliveau. They played hockey, but when they had to play rough, Gordie could do it.”

Olmstead

BERT OLMSTEAD
Left winger, 1948-62
1985 HOF Inductee


“When you’re playing against the best player in the league, you’re very, very quiet on the ice. That was sort of an unwritten law that, if you know anything about playing, you don’t talk to your opponent, especially a high-caliber guy like Gordie. A little talk would get you in trouble, pretty serious stuff, because we often played back-to-back so many times. And (Gordie) had a long memory.

“I always wanted to play with Gordie because we’re both from Saskatewan, we’re both half-intelligent hockey players, and I always wanted to play with him, but I never had the chance. I knew of him growing up and seeing him play baseball through Saskatoon. He was a good all-around athlete.”

Kurri

JARI KURRI
Right winger, 1980-98
2001 HOF Inductee


“I definitely had heard his name growing up and had his (Hartford) hockey card, but didn’t get to see him play too much. Growing up in Finland we didn’t get the chance to go to games or get too much information on the NHL, but we heard of the big names like Gordie Howe, which was a huge name in Finland.

“I don’t know how he did it, but you just look at him and see how strong he was in some of the highlights. I think he really took care of himself, like the players do now, but at that time he was ahead of his time when it came to conditioning, which allowed him to play for so long.”

Lemieux

MARIO LEMIEUX
Center, 1984-2006
1997 HOF Inductee


“Gordie Howe always will be ‘Mr. Hockey.’ His combination of skill, toughness, leadership and competitive fire inspired an entire generation of players, who tried to live up to the standards he set.”

ALLAN STANLEY

Stanley

Defenseman, 1948-69
1981 HOF Inductee


“You were never going to knock Gordie off his skates because he was too strong of a skater, he was a big guy. If I tried to knock him down, he’d bounce off of me, skate around and score a goal. Going against somebody like that -- you couldn’t keep them from doing things – all you could do was keep them to the board-side, the furthest from the net and at a bad angle. If we were playing against Gordie, we would tell Johnny Bower that we’ll keep him at a bad angle against the boards, and if you can’t stop him from there, we’re going to get a new goaltender.”

Bouchard

EMILE BOUCHARD
Defenseman, 1941-56
1966 HOF Inductee


“Gordie was the greatest player of my time. I had to be on my toes because he had a great shot and skated with two great players in Sid Abel and Ted Lindsay. I had to watch him all of the time when he came down the ice. He was outstanding. One thing that I remember about Gordie Howe was his energy. If he just finished a shift on the ice and they got a penalty, he would come right back and help kill the penalty. He had a lot of endurance.

“He was strong and he could defend himself very well. He wasn’t a fighter, but we knew that he was strong. The fans appreciated him because they compared him to the Rocket Richard. For me, Gordie was just as good as the Rocket.”

Hull

BOBBY HULL
Left winger, 1957-80
1983 HOF Inductee


“I remember one of his nights of retiring, when the Vice President (Spiro Agnew) was there. In between the first and second periods Tommy Ivan came in and said, ‘Bobby here is a memento that we would like you to give to Howe from the Blackhawks.’ I asked if I had to speak and he said no. My three front teeth were in my shirt pocket and a piece of Wrigley’s Spearmint was in my mouth. When Mr. Lynch called me up to make the presentation, he handed me the microphone. The crowd was politely applauding. At that time, we had played about 15 years against one another and all that came out of my mouth was ‘I’ve played against this guy and with him somewhat, and I’ve enjoyed every high-sticking moment of it.’ That kind of broke everybody up.”

T. Esposito

TONY ESPOSITO
Goalie, 1968-84
1988 HOF Inductee


“When I entered the league, Gordie was toward the end of his career for the first time. But he was still a great hockey player. He had to have wrist surgery and that’s the reason, in my firm belief, that he couldn’t shoot the puck like he wanted to. He could still skate and all of that, but I noticed that his shot wasn’t the same as usual. It got weaker; it seemed, in that last year.

“But even in his 50s he was a force and could still play. He wasn’t just there because he was Gordie Howe. He was contributing. I remember he scored a goal on me – a wrist shot from about 25-feet out. He beat me clean to the low catching side. He really got a lot on it – blew it by me before I could get there. I think that’s why he came back. He knew he could skate and do the job physically.”

P. Esposito

PHIL ESPOSITO
Center, 1963-81
1984 HOF Inductee


“It was my second game in the NHL and we were playing in the Olympia. I was sitting on the bench and Billy Reay, who was the coach of the Blackhawks said, ‘Esposito, you go out there with (Bobby) Hull and let Hull take the face-off.’ This is almost the third period. I’m out there and I’m scared. I’m looking around. There’s Bobby Hull, Alex Delvecchio, Bill Gadsby, Terry Sawchuk, Glenn Hall, Pierre Pilote, Ted Lindsay, and there’s Buck Gordie. I can’t believe it. I’m standing on the left wing next to Gordie, and Hull says to me, ‘You got that old son-of-a-bitch?’ Gordie just looks at me and smiles. The puck drops and I go in to get it and suddenly, wham! He gives me an elbow right beneath the nose in the upper lip. I still have the scare where I got six stitches.”

Johnson

TOM JOHNSON
Defenseman, 1947-65
1970 HOF Inductee


“There was one player Gordie was not sure how to take — this was after I was finished and involved with the Bruins. That was Derek Sanderson, he wasn’t sure how to take him because he didn’t know whether Sanderson was going to hit him over the head, or spear him, or punch his eyes out. But Howe was the ultimate in physical play in the league at that time.”

Lach

ELMER LACH
Center, 1940-54
1966 HOF Inductee


“You couldn’t help but notice Gordie because he did everything so easily. He was a great athlete and a great person. He had the right temperament, and the right physical structure. He was muscular and always in exceptional condition. Gordie didn’t need the fitness training that players have today. Looking back, I was very fortunate to be playing at the same time he was. We had a lot of great competition. It was fair, and we played by the rules.”

Langway

ROD LANGWAY
Defenseman, 1978-93
2002 HOF Inductee


“Towards the beginning of my career in Montreal, Gordie broke my nose. It was the last minute of the game, and he was in the corner with the puck. We were killing a penalty, and I went in and put my stick out there to block his pass, and the puck just rode up my stick and crushed my nose.
“The people who never saw Gordie play really missed out on something special, and it was truly an honor to play against him. You’re talking about one of the greatest players ever in our game. He’s strong as an ox, mean as a snake, and he’s a winner. I think any coach would love to have a winner like Gordie on their team.”

Gretzky

WAYNE GRETZKY
Center, 1979-99
1999 HOF Inductee


“I was asked to speak at a Lions Club dinner when I was 10, and Gordie Howe was going to be one of the guest speakers, and I was going to sit at the head table. I was all excited to be a part of it and get the chance to meet Gordie Howe. This is when the infamous picture of him and I was taken. When you’re a kid and you look up to somebody and he becomes your hero and then your mentor, a lot of times kids get disappointed. For me when I met Gordie Howe I always remember telling my dad that he was bigger and better than I had ever imagined. He was genuinely a nice man and obviously the greatest player that ever played. So for me I was really lucky that my idol was as nice as he was.

“I was tongue-tied for hours. He was the greatest person for me to meet because he taught me about being humble and about being nice to people. Gordie Howe never blew anybody off ever in his life. He was always genuinely nice to each and every person who ever came over to him, and signing autographs and taking pictures. At that time I think he was 38-years-old and if he could be doing that at that age, it couldn’t be that hard for everybody to sign autographs and take pictures, so those were valuable lessons for me.”

Perreault

GILBERT PERREAULT
Center, 1970-87
1990 HOF Inductee


“Gordie Howe is a role model for all hockey players. He was one of the greatest, if not the greatest, hockey players ever. Of course, his legacy is amazing. He’s like a God. I only played two or three years against Gordie. But playing against him was just a great thrill. When you play against a legend, even at his age, it was amazing.
 
“I had the chance to play with him in the Legends Game in Saskatoon. The building was full and Gordie was playing this one shift and this player was hooking him and you could see the elbow coming out. It was a charity game, but Gordie didn’t care for the hooking and grabbing, and he let that player know it."

Pilote

PIERRE PILOTE
Defenseman, 1955-69
1975 HOF Inductee


“I never had a tussle with him in the corners or anything, but man, he was hard to check. You just hoped that he made the mistake and not you. You knew if you got close to him you were in trouble. You tried to keep him to the outside, but you never tried to hit him and bowl him over because he would make you look silly. You tried to get as close as you could to him, like a magnet and attach yourself, opposed to trying to knock him over. I never saw anybody knock him over or take a run at him because it was well-known that his right arm was always up. I think he would adapt to whatever style today, but we will never see another player like Gordie, who can control the game.”

Cheevers

GERRY CHEEVERS
Goalie, 1961-80
1985 HOF Inductee


“I remember playing against Detroit in my second game in the NHL. Johnny Bower got hurt, and I had to play in Toronto against Chicago and Bobby Hull et cetera on a Saturday, and then in Detroit on that Sunday. I’ll never forget that game; I was in awe certainly. I call that period BM – ‘Before the Mask’ -- so you were a little more nervous. Gordie took a shot in that game and snapped my goal stick in half. It had never happened in Juniors, but here was the world’s greatest player and he snapped a shot that broke my stick.”

Hawerchuk

DALE HAWERCHUK
Center, 1981-97
2001 HOF Inductee


“I met him as a youngster growing up in Oshawa, Ontario. It was an era with Gordie Howe and Bobby Hull, and of course Bobby Orr was coming in. But Gordie was always the man. Everybody loved the Leafs, but once you got outside of that, Gordie was the best in the game. When I look at Gordie I see why he could play until he was 50 years old. He was built to play the game. I always tell people that I was almost too young to remember him, but when I met him he just had a presence. When I talk to guys who played against him, that was his game – he just had a presence out there. He had that presence off the ice as well.”

Howell

HARRY HOWELL
Defenseman, 1951-76
1979 HOF Inductee


“He was usually the best player on the ice every time you played against them. He was very, very strong and you tried to keep him to the outside and hope that he would shoot from a bad angle.

“The one game that I remember happened in New York when Gordie scored his 300th goal, and Andy Bathgate scored for us on a penalty shot and we made the playoffs. But the big thing was Gordie getting No. 300. He was a high producer every year. He’ll always be remembered because he played so long and so well, and if I were starting a team, the first two guys I would want are Gordie Howe and Bobby Orr.”

Salming

BORJE SALMING
Defenseman, 1973-90
1996 HOF Inductee


“We knew about Gordie Howe and Bobby Hull in Sweden. They were the main guys, but I never really got to see him play before I got to Toronto and he was playing in the WHA with his sons. When I played against him, I didn’t want to hurt him, because all of Canada probably would have killed you. Still, he could take care of himself, and I saw him put his elbow out and hit some guys. He was solid and very hard to move away from the net. It was amazing that at 52 he was still playing, but he was because he was so solid and in such good shape.”

Pulford

BOB PULFORD
Center, 1956-72
1991 HOF Inductee


“He was a tough son-of-a-gun and you were always very cautious of what you did to him. He was so strong that he would shove you out of the way. I hit him in the head one time and cut him a bit. By the time that game was over he had retaliated with me and put me in the hospital for seven days. He never even got a penalty. But a lot of times the referees never saw him do things. He was extremely clever that way. . . . Your respect for him grew as time went on.”

Trottier

BRYAN TROTTIER
Center, 1975-94
1997 HOF Inductee


“Playing against him was the thrill of a lifetime. We wanted to pressure him, but we didn’t want to hit him because we didn’t want a stick in the head. We were telling them in the locker room ‘We don’t want Gordie scoring against us, but remember, if you go after him you’re going to get clunked.’ He’s the master of trickery, who also has the most experience and style of any player in the history of hockey.

“I was so proud of my (jersey) number. When I came on to the team Clark Gilles was No. 9 and there were only a few numbers available. Our trainer told me I could have 19, but that Craig Cameron had it the year before so it might be too big on me. Well, to have a No. 9 in my number was pretty cool. There were lots of great No. 9s, and Gordie was probably the best, so to have that number I was pretty excited.”

M. Richard

MAURICE RICHARD
Right winger, 1942-60
1961 HOF Inductee
*Sports Illustrated, March 18, 1957

“Many people have tried to start a feud between us, they say I don’t like Howe. It’s not true. He is a great hockey player. If I had to make any comment about the guy it would be that he doesn’t seem to go all out every time he’s out there. If he did, there’s no telling what he might do to the record book.”

Orr

BOBBY ORR
Defenseman, 1966-79
1979 HOF Inductee


“My first game, Gordie wanted to let the young kid know that he was still around. I made a pass and skated around the net and watched my pretty pass and he knocked me down. I can’t say I was surprised. I was just sitting there watching my pass. I had my head down and he drilled me. Surprised? No. I didn’t see him coming and it was a good lesson for me in this league. Later on, I had asked him about the hit, and in typical Gordie-fashion said, ‘It’s better to give than to receive.’

“I’ve never met anyone like him; in my mind he’s the best ever. Nobody will ever touch him. There have been a lot of great players in the past, and they’ll be a lot of great players in the future, but none will be as good as Gordie Howe.”

Gilbert

ROD GILBERT
Right winger, 1960-78
1982 HOF Inductee


“I remember my first game at the Olympia. I was unconscious for -- I don’t know -- a couple of minutes. Two of my teammates picked me up and were sliding me back to the bench, and one of the linesman came by and he says, ‘No. 9.’ He put my lights out, and that was my introduction to the Olympia and the Detroit Red Wings. Then a couple of years ago at an All-Star Game, we were having breakfast in the hospitality room and Gordie comes to me and said, ‘Rod, did I ever get you?’ I said, ‘Gordie, who didn’t you ever get? You’ve done everybody.”

LaPointe

GUY LAPOINTE
Defenseman, 1968-84
1993 HOF Inductee


“The thing I do remember, is how strong, physically he was. It was unbelievable. Going into the corner with him, you couldn’t get the puck away from him. If he tried to go around you, you’d go to push him up the boards and he would stick an arm out, and with one hand still controlling the puck. It was like trying to push a wall; you couldn’t push him off the puck. He was phenomenal. I don’t think there was a single weakness in his game. He could play any type of game you wanted to play. You want to play physical? He was strong. He was just perfect. That’s why he’s Mr. Hockey.”

Savard

DENIS SAVARD
Center, 1980-97
2000 HOF Inductee

“Stan Mikita has told me that Gordie was tough. That’s what you hear the most. He was a great hockey player, but he was tough and gritty. Nobody really messed with him because you knew you were going to get it back. And when you played a team 12 times in a season, at some point you knew, he was coming. They had long memories back then.

“In his day, most of the players had a straight blade stick. Obviously, if they had the equipment that we have today, especially Gordie – the way he was built, his forearms, his shoulders – he would have been a hard, hard shooter. That to me says a lot about those guys; how they played in their day, especially him, as great as he was. It was an even field, but it was probably a lot more difficult to score than it is today.”

Parent

BERNIE PARENT
Goalie, 1965-79
1984 HOF Inductee


“My first year, 1965, I was with the Boston Bruins, and Gilles Marotte was a big, tough guy, who hit Gordie along the boards at the old Olympia. When you came out of the one corner at the Olympia there was a door, and Gordie went right through it. Marotte was a big kid, but he was a rookie. And about three shifts later, Marotte had a broken jaw. Somehow the old man got back at him. Gordie was the best, the king of the hill. What else can you say?

“He represents the game so well, and that makes him so special. The way he handles himself in different situations. He’s always been a classy person. The only way to describe an individual like this is that he was always one step ahead of the rest. He was blessed with so much.”

Stastny

PETER STASTNY
Center, 1980-95
1998 HOF Inductee


“I was at the Olympics in Lake Placid in 1980, and just before the Games, there was the All-Star Game in Detroit. We were in North America for the show that Gordie Howe put on – I could not believe it. The man was dominating, and the people were going crazy. For us, to watch it on TV, it was a tremendous, emotional experience, that somebody could be that loved and that well respected. There were too many things to fathom, to comprehend. He wasn’t average, he was better than average. I never got to play against him, but it was the first time I got to watch him and it was very, very impressive.”

H. Richard

HENRI RICHARD
Center, 1955-75
1979 HOF Inductee

“When I was a kid, of course, I thought my brother, Maurice, was the best hockey player that I had ever seen. He was my brother. Then, when I grew-up and I saw Gordie, I thought he was one of the greatest too. I know there have been many great hockey players, but those two were the best.

“Sure, I remember the first time I played against Gordie, I got an elbow in the face. He was just a great hockey player, he just wanted to win and that was part of the game. Everybody has his own way to play the game, and he was a little dirty, but just a great hockey player. I hated playing against him because he was too tough.”

Ratelle

JEAN RATELLE
Center, 1960-81
1985 HOF Inductee

“I remember the All-Star Game in Detroit when Scotty Bowman, who was the coach, got every forward to skate on Gordie’s line for one period. It was great to play with him for one period. It was a fantastic feeling. Gordie Howe was always looked upon to be Mr. Hockey. He was a real gentleman.

“I remember one game at the old Madison Square Gardens on 49th Street when Gordie lost his hockey stick. He then skated by our bench and he grabbed the first stick that he saw, which was Orland Kurtenbach’s stick. He grabbed it and kept playing with it. Kurt jumped on to the ice and chased Gordie trying to get his stick back. It was a real funny thing.
“There’s no doubt that Gordie’s the most-prolific player of his era. He’s just a phenomenal individual to have played as long as he did.”

Bossy

MIKE BOSSY
Right winger, 1977-87
1991 HOF Inductee


“My mom (Dorothy) was a huge fan of Gordie Howe’s from when I was a real young kid. I found out, once I got older, that my mom sent a birthday card to Gordie every year. When I finally did make it into the NHL, and played against Gordie at the Nassau Coliseum for the first time, my mom happened to be in town, and she was able to meet Gordie Howe after the game. It was a huge thrill for her. It was a bigger thrill for me to introduce her to Gordie.

“It was always special playing against Gordie. I remember the first time playing against him in Hartford and it was a little surreal because I had been watching him ever since I was a little boy, watching hockey on TV. It was quite amazing, and as I get older I find it quite amazing that he was able to play until that age.”

B. Smith

BILLY SMITH
Goalie, 1971-89
1993 HOF Inductee


“You have to respect everything that he did. He was a superstar. I didn’t play against him, at least that I remember anyway. Everybody knew of Gordie Howe when we were growing up, I mean him, Jean Beliveau, all the superstars. Certainly, in his era, Gordie Howe was the best. In different eras there are different guys. In my era there is Wayne Gretzky and Bobby Orr. I think Bobby Orr was one of the best all-around hockey players, and Gordie Howe was the same thing.”

Mullen

JOE MULLEN
Right winger, 1979-97
2000 HOF Inductee


“After he finished playing, Gordie probably promoted the game – especially in the United States – pretty much better than anybody. He was always around a lot of the rinks, and when he was in the building, he always made his presence felt. You knew he was in the building because there was a buzz about it. He would stop by the other locker rooms, and I think he enjoyed getting to know the other guys, and getting to know the younger guys. I only met him a handful of times, but he was always a gentleman to me. He’s a great ambassador for the game.”

S. Savard

SERGE SAVARD
Defenseman, 1966-83
1986 HOF Inductee


“I saw him play when I was a kid, so I was pretty impressed when I started to play against him. He was feared by everybody, especially a young player like me when I came into the league at 20, 21-years-old. My first souvenir from him came in my second year in the league and our coach, Claude Ruel says to me, ‘Tonight, you will shadow Gordie Howe.’ So, the first face-off at center ice, I’m beside him, and I don’t look at him. We won the face-off and I turned around, and he cross-checked me in the back. I slid all the way into the boards. That’s how he served notice to me, and that was my first meeting with him.”

Duff

DICK DUFF
Left winger, 1954-72
2006 HOF Inductee


“I think there’s no question that Howe would still be considered by many to be the best player that ever played for his longevity and the way he played, and the way he contributed to the team. You only got to play against five tough teams; you didn’t have expansion with six extra teams for a guy like Bobby Orr to play against. So when the guy is identified as the best player now, Howe didn’t have an extra six teams to filter through, and later on they put more teams in the league.

“We didn’t need imaginary, made-up toughness, it was there. The guys who made it, whether it was Milt Schmidt, Jimmy Horton or Henri Richard, they had it. I would say that a guy like Howe wore that label for all of us.”

Mikita

STAN MIKITA
Center, 1958-80
1983 HOF Inductee


“It’s a story that began when I was a young punk, rookie kid. We played the Red Wings in our third or so game of the season. I went over to check Gordie Howe, and I think I went to lift his stick, and caught him on his cheekbone. It looked like there was just a little scratch or something, but there was a whistle on the play. He looks down and sees a little blood on the ice. He looked at me, and I’m kind of smiling I guess, and he points his finger at me. When he did that, I said, ‘Ah, get out of here you old bastard, you should of retired years ago. You’re too old for this game anyway.’

“We’re in the dressing room between periods, and Ted Lindsay is sitting next to me and says, ‘Stanley, you shouldn’t have talked to Gordie the way you did.’ I said, ‘Well, he is old. He shouldn’t be out here.’ And he said, ‘What you just said, he’ll never forget. Watch yourself.’

“We get to a game in Detroit, about five, six or seven games after the incident, and I had kind of forgotten about it. Gordie came skating back after we had shot the puck in the end zone, and I’m going in to fore-check. I cut across the middle and the next thing I know, I’ve got an awfully sore jaw. I’m rolling around and don’t know where the hell I am. I see a bunch of guys sitting on the bench, so I literally started crawling over there. I get on the bench and in about two-seconds I feel somebody lifting me up under the armpits. The next thing I know they’re throwing me over the boards onto the ice. I ended up on the Red Wings’ bench. That’s how goofy I was.”

McDonald

LANNY MCDONALD
Right winger, 1973-89
1992 HOF Inductee


“You probably noticed that I eventually wore No. 9. Ronnie Ellis and Gordie Howe were two right-wingers – both who wore No. 9, and my all-time favorite players. In Gordie’s final game in Toronto he scored a remarkable goal. He came in over the blue line about 8-12 feet, dropped a shoulder, took a wrist shot for the top corner, and Mike Palmateer, who prided himself on having the best glove-hand in hockey – was still bent over looking for the puck as the light went on. Our entire bench stood up as one and started to cheer. It was wonderful and such a nice way to say good-bye, especially at the Maple Leaf Gardens. It was Gordie Howe. It was vintage, and it was great being a part of it.”

Fuhr

GRANT FUHR
Goalie, 1981-2000
2003 HOF Inductee


“He’s such a nice man, and I guess that’s the biggest impression that’s left after you meet him. Anytime you get to meet somebody of Gordie’s stature, it’s someone that you try to be like. Seeing him deal with people and how he’s nice to everybody, that was one of the biggest impressions. He has time for everybody and he’s nice to everybody. . . . Life would be a lot simpler if everyone were like Gordie Howe.”

Clarke

BOBBY CLARKE
Center, 1969-84
1987 HOF Inductee

“I was neighbors with Mark Howe. We lived a couple of houses apart in Philly, and my daughter (Jody) went to school with his son (Travis); they were in preschool, about four-years-old. My daughter came home from school one day, and I asked her, ‘How did things go in school?’ And she said, ‘Oh, dad, we had a great time. Travis’s grandpa was there and we were playing horsy with him.’ They were all riding Gordie’s back, and all I could think was there’s my idol, Gordie.
“When I played with Mark and we went into Hartford to play, he said that his dad was coming in to see him after the game. I remember sitting in my uniform for a long time, scared to shower in case I missed him, and I had already played against him for a lot of times. I just wanted to shake his hand. . . . For a man of his stature, in any hockey player’s eyes, he’s very comfortable to be around. You would almost be intimidated, but once you met him, he was such a neat guy.”

Lafleur

GUY LAFLEUR
Right winger, 1971-85, 1988-91
1988 HOF Inductee


“When I was a kid, Gordie was one of my idols. I had his book that my dad gave to me for Christmas when I was 12. . . . The first time I played against Gordie, I was so impressed because I had followed his career as a kid. He was one of the top players in the NHL, so for me it was a pleasure of getting the chance to play against him.

“The thing is, some times when I was beside him on the ice, he used to talk to me, and say, ‘Hey, you better watch out tonight,’ and he would say it laughing. It was actually kind of funny.”

LaFontaine

PAT LAFONTAINE
Center, 1983-98
2003 HOF Inductee


“I didn’t have a chance to watch him play too much, but having the chance to meet him on so many occasions, I’ve been so impressed with the man. Sure, there are the records and the things that he has done on the ice. But my impression of him is more of a personality and the presence that he has.

“We played in a charity hockey game in Boston, and I always wanted to have a picture taken with Gordie. We were in the locker room and he couldn’t have been kinder or more generous. He had the picture blown-up and he signed it, ‘Good luck with everything you do.’ We have a little hockey rink and we put in a locker room for the kids, so I have that picture hanging in the center of it, so you see that picture of Gordie and myself.”

P. Roy

PATRICK ROY
Goalie, 1984-2003
2006 HOF Inductee


“I remember going to Le Colisee at the time and I was watching the Houston Aeros’ practice. A friend of my mom and dad’s -- Gordon Labossiere, who played for the Houston Aeros and the NHL – had us there for a practice, and I remember seeing Gordie at one of the morning skates. I didn’t get to meet him; I guess we were all shy. I couldn’t speak English at the time, but we were really impressed to see him there.

“I’ve met him many times at different NHL events. You were always impressed with the way he deals with people. Here’s a guy, who was really intense on the ice and even dirty at times, and be so kind and so nice off of the ice. It’s such a huge contrast. He has set an example for all of us.”

Robinson

LARRY ROBINSON
Defenseman, 1972-92
1995 HOF Inductee


“My first impression when he came back was that he just wanted to play with his sons. But then after playing against him, you were like, ‘Holy cripes, he’s not just playing with his sons; he can really play!’ He has to be one of the most incredible athletes that I’ve ever met in my lifetime.
   
“Everyone still talks about Wayne and rightly so, but I still think one of the greatest hockey players to ever play the game is Gordie Howe. You listen to all of the old guys from the Canadiens, and how they talk about Gordie. You can just see what he was for the league and what he’s meant for hockey.”

Neely

CAM NEELY
Right winger, 1983-96
2005 HOF Inductee


“I had met Gordie Howe at one of the All Star Games. Meeting him at a young age made a huge impression on me. After all, he is Mr. Hockey. Growing up I always heard stories from my dad about how he played the game. He was a physical player with great offensive ability. He played with an edge and always stuck up for his teammates. What can you say about a guy that has a hat trick named after him? If you couldn't get the real thing his was next best.”

Gainey

BOB GAINEY
Left winger, 1973-89
1992 HOF Inductee


“The 1980 NHL All-Star game in Detroit is seared in my memory. I remember standing on the blueline during the pre-game introductions, as Gordie Howe stepped onto the ice. Joe Louis Arena exploded. It was a blistering ovation of welcome, of respect, of esteem, of gratitude that seemed would never end.

“He had left an indelible mark on the Red Wings, on the City of Detroit, on Hockey. The people there wanted him to know that, wanted him to know how they felt, and told him with an ovation reserved for only the greatest of the greats. I was there, and I will never forget it.”

Bourque

RAY BOURQUE
Defenseman, 1979-2001
2004 HOF Inductee


“The first time I played against him was in Springfield because the arena in Hartford wasn’t ready. I couldn’t believe it; I was playing against a legend. It was just incredible. I had always heard of the type of player he was and how he played the game with so many different dimensions to it. You didn’t mess with him in his time or that night, which was proven to me at that age. The story I remember about that game is that Bobby Miller had given Marty or Mark a good hit, or what Gordie that was a cheap shot. Later in the game, Bobby ended up with a nice little cut up over his eye, and was told not to do those types of things to his sons. You didn’t mess around with Gordie.”

Marty Howe

MARTY HOWE
Gordie's son

“I don’t know if it ever dawned on me that my dad was a famous hockey player. To me, he was my dad. People would ask, ‘What does he do for work’, and I’d say, ‘He really doesn’t work. He plays hockey.’ I didn’t think of it as a job, he was just having fun playing hockey, and we would jump on him when we saw him in the morning. We had a great way of finding the sore spot in the morning when we jumped on him. It never failed that we would get him right where it hurt.

“We’ve always been a close family. Gordie wasn’t making much money. He worked in the summer too, so my mom would make our clothes; we grew-up on casseroles. But we were always together and we always ate together when we could. The only time when any of us really split-up was when I went to Toronto to play juniors.”

Murray Howe

DR. MURRAY HOWE
Gordie's son

“Whatever ailment he had we would bring him in and do whatever X-ray studies on his wrists or his back. He’s kind of a medical wonder, so radiologists are always excited to see his X-rays because they are unbelievable in terms of how he could tolerate the pain and continue doing what he does. His wrists are a miracle in and of themselves. He’s basically got a bag of bones in both of his wrists. They’re about twice the size of a normal human being’s. He’s had several fractures in them that were never treated at the time of the injuries so all of the bones just kind of disintegrated. When you look at the X-rays it looks like a patient that has an abnormal nervous system that doesn’t detect pain. Most patients wouldn’t be able to tolerate that pain.”

Vic Howe

VIC HOWE
Gordie's youngest brother

 “I was playing with the New York Rovers, and they called me in and told me that I would be playing against the Red Wings. I think it was a Wednesday night, and I thought, ‘Oh, this is going to be a bit of a knee-knocker.’ We got out on to the ice to warm-up and they came over and wanted a picture of the two of us. We’re standing there and I said, ‘I don’t know about you, but I’m shaking like a leaf.’ He said, ‘That’s no problem, wait until the whistle blows.’ Once the whistle blew, I was all right, but we never were on the ice at the same time in that game.

“The second time I played the Wings was an amazing time because I scored the tying goal in the third period. When the goal went in, Gordie was sitting on the bench and let out a ‘Yeah!’ ”

JOAN CLARK
Gordie's sister

“He was quite the teaser. When he would come home for the summers, before he married Colleen, we would make are sandwiches for work the night before. Then when we got there, the bread was there, but the ham and cheese was gone. He would steal the good stuff and all we had was bread. We fell for that trick a couple of times.”

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