Gordie Howe, the rough-and-tumble Canadian farm boy whose boundless blend of talent and toughness made him the NHL's quintessential star during a career that lasted into his 50s, has died. The man forever known as "Mr. Hockey" was 88.
Son Murray Howe confirmed the death Friday, texting to The Associated Press: "Mr Hockey left peacefully, beautifully, and w no regrets."
Howe shattered records, threw elbows and helped the Detroit Red Wings win four Stanley Cups, becoming an idol to Wayne Gretzky and countless other Canadians while also helping the sport attract American fans.
His final NHL season came at age 52 when Gretzky was a rookie -- a fitting symmetry since Howe was the league's most prolific scorer until the "Great One" broke his career marks for goals and points.
With finesse and a heavy dose of grit, the Hockey Hall of Famer set NHL marks with 801 goals and 1,850 points -- mostly with the Red Wings -- that held up until Gretzky came along. Howe was also so famously fierce that a "Gordie Howe Hat Trick" became synonymous with the combination of having a goal, an assist and a fight in one game.
Arguably one of the two greatest hockey players to ever strap on the skates. Damn.
I actually met Gordie back in high school in Newfoundland where I grew up. My family and I used to go camping on the west coast which is also a well known salmon fishing area and he was there with others to catch some salmon. It was a meeting I've never forgotten.