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Gordie Howe Dies: 'Mr. Hockey' Earned His Nickname Easily

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The sports world has lost another icon.

Gordie Howe, the legendary Canadian hockey player who became so quintessential to the game he was nicknamed "Mr. Hockey," died Friday at the age of 88 at his son's home in Ohio.

Here's why it's unsurprising Howe earned that nickname:

His career spanned five decades.

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Gordie Howe No. 9 of the Detroit Red Wings skates on the ice during an NHL game against the Minnesota North Stars on March 17, 1968 at the Met Center in Bloomington, Minn. (Photo: Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

Six decades, actually, if you count one game he played in 1997.

Howe started playing for the Detroit Red Wings in 1946. He retired in 1980, as a grandfather. That's 32 professional seasons — more than any other player.

He held the record for most goals scored (801) until Wayne Gretzky broke it in 1994. He was named to the All-Star team 21 times and honoured as the league's Most Valuable Player six times.

Howe kept playing for years even after being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and being appointed into the Order of Canada.

"One of my goals was longevity," he said, according to The Canadian Press. "I guess I've pretty much got the lock on that."

A hockey feat was named after him.

gordie howe red wings

Gordie Howe #9 of the Detroit Red Wings poses for a photo in Montreal, Que. (Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)

Howe was such a beast on the ice that the Gordie Howe hat trick, the feat of (1) scoring a goal, (2) an assist, and (3) getting into a fight in the same game, was named after him. He achieved that for the first time in 1953, according to Global News.


He was "the greatest Red Wing of all time."

Howe's run with Detroit was remarkable. Playing with the team all the way until 1971, he helped the Red Wings win the Stanley Cup four times.

“Today is a sad day for the Detroit Red Wings and the entire hockey world as together we mourn the loss of one of the greatest hockey players of all-time,” said Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch in a statement on Howe's passing.

"We will miss Mr. Hockey, who was the greatest Red Wing of all time," the team's general manager Ken Holland said, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Howe played so much — and so well — he ended up on a team with his sons.

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Portrait of Canadian hockey player Gordie Howe (centre) and his sons Marty (left) and Mark, all of the Houston Aeros WHA hockey team, mid 1970s. (Photo: Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

You read that right. In 1973, Howe and his sons Mark and Marty signed four-year contracts with the World Hockey Association's Houston Aeros. It was "the fulfilment of a dream" for Howe. No one has achieved that feat since.

And it's not like his sons overshadowed him, either. Howe was named the league's MVP when he was 46.

He returned to play one last game — 17 years after he retired.

At 69, Howe joined the International Hockey League's Detroit Vipers for a game in 1997, according to CBC News. That made his career span six decades.

His love of hockey was eternal.

Sportsnet's Dan Robson shared a snippet on Friday of a 2012 article he wrote about Howe. In the story, Robson describes a hike Howe took with his son Murray. On the walk, Murray asks his father what he should say in a eulogy, should the hockey legend die before he did.

“Finally, the third period is finally over," Howe says. "I hope they have a good hockey team in heaven."

With files from The Canadian Press

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