There were, and have been, players who could skate faster, shoot harder, score more points and set more records than Gordie Howe – but there has only been one “Gordie” in hockey, a player so ingrained in the Canadian sports psyche that no other name was required for identification, not even the “Mr. Hockey” that his late wife, Colleen, wanted to copyright to ensure no one else would ever take it.
No one else would ever dare.
And now, with the death of one of the game’s most beloved legends at age 88, “Gordie,” “Elbows, “No. 9,” “Mr. Hockey” is no more and is forever at the same time.
Gordie Howe shown in an undated file photo. (The Hockey Hall of Fame)
Gordie Howe in action against the Toronto Maple Leafs in an undated file photo. (Michael Burns Sr/The Hockey Hall of Fame)
Detroit Red Wings player, Gordie Howe (facing camera) shakes hands with Toronto Maple Leaf player, Andy Bathgate, at the end of Stanley Cup final in Toronto, April 25, 1964. (The Globe and Mail)
Gordie Howe chases the puck behind Maple Leafs goalie Johnny Bower. (The Hockey Hall of Fame)
Gordie Howe of the Detroit Red Wings, 1958-1962.
Johnny Bower looks back as Gordie Howe appears to have slipped a puck by for a goal in a game during the 1959-60 season at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Turofsky/The Hockey Hall of Fame)
Gordie Howe skating behind the net during a game against the Maple Leafs. (The Hockey Hall of Fame)
Gordie Howe of the Detroit Red Wings poses with stick and puck in Madison Square Garden dressing room in New York tonight after scoring the 500th goal of his National Hockey League career. (The Associated Press)
Gordie Howe (centre) with his sons Mark and Marty when they were all playing for the Houston Aeros. (The Hockey Hall of Fame)
Gordie, Mark (centre) and Marty Howe suit up for the WHA's Houston Aeros in a 1975 handout photo from the new book "Mr. Hockey." (The Canadian Press)
The Hartford Whaler Gordie Howe is intent on his target as he takes the shot that resulted in his 799th NHL goal in 1980. Howe was 52 at the time. (The Associated Press)
Wayne Gretzky is shown standing with hockey great Gordie Howe (L) when he was 12-years-old in Brantford, Ontario, in 1972. (The Brantford Expositor)
Gordie Howe is shown a a recent handout photo from the new book "Mr. Hockey." (Paul Horton/Neue Studios/The Canadian Press)