UPDATE: An MRI test has revealed Howe did not suffer a new stroke, reported CBC News. According to the hockey legend's son, Howe's latest health scare is likely due to "dehydration with superimposed fatigue."
"He's a fighter," Purnell said. "The man is tough. He has this will to keep going, all things considered."
The man known as "Mr. Hockey" set NHL marks with 801 goals and 1,850 points, mostly with the Detroit Red Wings, records later broken by Wayne Gretzky.
Purnell said therapists who have been tending to Howe arrived at her house Monday morning and discovered him nonresponsive in bed. Howe remained that way until evening, when Purnell said he recognized family members once he became alert.
Howe suffered what his children called a serious stroke in late October and another in early November. He has been staying at his daughter's home in Lubbock.
She said the family wants to get the 86-year-old Howe back to her house as soon as possible.
"It scares the daylight out of me," Purnell said, adding that she told him Monday night to "stop pulling these games on me. He gave me a smile. His sense of humour is intact."