SASKATOON — The family of hockey great Gordie Howe wants to return Mr. Hockey to his home.
A city official says the family has requested that the cremated remains of Howe and his wife Colleen be interred at the base of a statue that honours him in Saskatoon.
Catherine Gryba says the city will have to apply to the province to have the statue at SaskTel Centre and a small portion of adjacent area declared a cemetery.
Gryba says it would be a fitting tribute to someone who always remembered his roots.
Born in Floral, moved to Saskatoon
Howe was born in Floral, Sask., but his family moved nine days later to Saskatoon, where he grew up before embarking on a record-setting hockey career in the United States.
He died on June 10 at the age of 88.
"It's only appropriate that we do what we can to remember this great athlete, Saskatonian and Canadian,'' Gryba said in a release Thursday.
"We've been speaking with the Howe family and will take the appropriate steps to safeguard and respect Gordie and Colleen's ashes,'' she said. "They will be encased in a special concrete vessel with a commemorative plaque on top to protect them.''
Flowers are placed at a statue of Gordie Howe at the Sasktel Centre in Saskatoon on Friday. (Photo: Liam Richards/CP)
SaskTel Centre has offered to cover up to $6,000 of the cost. The Western Hockey League Saskatoon Blades, who play at the arena, would handle the rest.
Numerous facilities and a street in Saskatoon have been named in Howe's honour and a proposal after his death to name one of the city's bridges after him is also going ahead.
The Blades, along with SaskTel Centre, are planning activities for Sept. 25 on what they have dubbed "Thank you, Mr. Hockey, Day.''
Howe spent 26 seasons in the National Hockey League and six in the World Hockey Association.
He is still No. 2 on the NHL's all-time goals list behind Wayne Gretzky.
Colleen Howe died in March 2009.
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