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Happy Birthday to Gordie Howe

Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, Sidney Crosby, Nicklas Lidstrom

In this photograph taken on Saturday, May 30, 2009, Detroit Red Wings hockey legends Gordie Howe, second from left, and Ted Lindsay, second from right, meet with Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby (87) and Red Wings’ Nicklas Lidstrom (5), of Sweden, to drop the ceremonial first pucks before the start of Game 1 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup finals in Detroit, May 30, 2009. Howe’s wife died three months ago and life hasn’t gotten any easier for the hockey great. “You can think you’re a big, strong guy, but if something like that happens, it makes you as weak as a kitten,” said Howe. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)


Today marks Gordie Howe’s 82nd birthday and his importance to the NHL is often forgotten about today in an era dominated by Crosby and Ovechkin. Without Gordie, though, there might not have been a place for either Crosby or Ovechkin. Heck, without Gordie there might not have even been a Wayne Gretzky.

Howe’s history speaks for itself. He was a 21-time all-star, a six-time Art Ross Trophy winner and a six-time Hart Trophy winner as the NHL’s most valuable player. There’s a good reason why Gordie Howe was referred to as “Mr. Hockey” and he’s been an ambassador for the game even after his first retirement from the game in 1971. Howe then went on to play in the WHA with the Houston Aeros and New England Whalers and then one more NHL season with the Hartford Whalers in 1979-1980.

For all the records Gordie Howe set in the NHL, he’s probably best known now for lending his name to the mythical “Gordie Howe hat trick” which accounts for a goal, an assist and a fight in a game. Gordie Howe’s mark on the game and on others is remarkable considering the NHL wasn’t even close to being mainstream back in his hey day. Can you name another hockey legend that can attach their name to such a feat and say they were reference in a classic 1980s movie and an iconic animated television series? Besides Wayne Gretzky that is, thanks to this and this.