You don’t get to bask in the limelight the way other players who are inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame do when your father is a living legend. But Mark Howe, Gordie’s son, is taking it all in stride.
The former Philadelphia Flyers defenceman, his father and his brother Marty, who is also a former NHL player, arrived in Toronto last Friday to enjoy a weekend of Hall of Fame celebrations.
“The first day in the hotel, 50 people came up and asked for autographs and they all asked for Gordie. Marty and I just sat there. That just comes with the territory,” Mark said at a reception on Monday at the Hall in Toronto where he and this year’s other inductees in the player category –Ed Belfour, Doug Gilmour and Joe Nieuwendyk – received their Hall of Fame rings.
Mr. Hockey himself was sitting in the front row at the ceremony. The 83-year-old cried at the sight of his son being officially welcomed into the ranks of the sport’s greatest players.
Later, he casually dismissed the attention heaped on him and made clear who the man of the hour is.
“The heck with Gordie Howe. It’s Mark Howe,” Gordie said.
The Howes are the fourth father-son pair to join the Hall of Fame as players, joining Oliver and Earl Seibert, Lester and Lynn Patrick and Bobby and Brett Hull.
Mark spent six seasons playing forward in the World Hockey Association and another 16 years in the NHL, where he moved to defence. In his career he totalled 405 goals, 841 assists in 1,355 games before retiring in 1995. He ended his playing days with Detroit, where his father cemented his legend.
“My biggest wish for this week I guess would be that I receive a lot more credit than dad only for his sake,” Mark said. “He wants me to deserve all the credit and get all the credit and be honoured for this week. He doesn’t want to distract from that.”
The Howes have always been a tight-knit group, and their closeness has always meant much more than the many accolades heaped upon them, Mark said.
“Honours mean nothing in our family without having the family to share it. That’s what makes this so special,” he said. “It means far more to me having him around than anything else.”
Gordie Howe said Mark’s induction to the Hall of Fame was more special to him than his own in 1972. He added he would like to see Marty join them there one day.
“I’ve got one to go,” he said.
For now, though, Mark has stepped out of his father’s shadow, as much as he could ever hope at least, and is enjoying his moment in the sun, happy to share it with his famous dad.
“Every kid growing up who loves the game of hockey, you play in the driveway, you dream of winning Stanley Cups. You dream of winning Conn Smythe trophies, you dream of everything,” he said. “The only thing you never dream of is making the Hall of Fame, so this is beyond any dream I’ve ever had.”