03/31/2015 09:00 EDT | Updated 05/31/2015 05:59 EDT

Gordie Howe, Red Wings legend, turns 87

Happy birthday, Mr. Hockey.

Gordie Howe, a Hall of Famer and former member of the Detroit Red Wings, turned 87 on Tuesday.

While he will not be in attendance at Joe Louis Arena tonight when the Red Wings host the Ottawa Senators, the team will be distributing Gordie Howe bobbleheads to the first 7,500 fans in attendance.

Howe will remain in Texas, where he continues to rehabilitate from a major stroke suffered in October.

News of his stroke was a shock to the hockey world, however, according to his son Mark, Howe has made a remarkable recovery aided by controversial stem cell treatment that he underwent in Mexico in December

The stroke left Howe unable to walk or stand or feed himself, but according to Mark, "he now has the ability to eat and retain fluids again and he eats like a horse." 

Wayne Gretzky recently took a moment to share his first on-ice experience with Howe. 

According to, Howe's sons Mark and Murray Howe took Gordie on a fishing trip last week at a nearby ranch.

"For him to be around to celebrate his 87th birthday I think every day for the rest of his life is just a bonus," Mark said. "I guess the thing that we're most happy for is that since he had his stem-cell treatment we hope that it would improve his quality of life just a little bit and give him a fighting chance."