DENVER–The Atlantic Division leading Florida Panthers hope to be Rocky Mountain High after playing the Colorado Avalanche Thursday night in Denver’s Pepsi Center.
An extra attraction for this game will be to see if Florida’s leading scorer Jaromir Jagr can get a point to tie Gordie Howe as the NHL’s third all-time leading point producer with 1850 points. The Miami Herald reported today that Garrett Wilson, who was awarded an assist on Vincent Trocheck’s goal Saturday afternoon in Columbus, said he never touched the puck….
Introducing Gordie Howe–Mr. Hockey
Thus we are here. Rather than let this imminent milestone pass as just another name on a list, today we’re going to talk about Gordie Howe, the NHL’s all-time leading scorer , who retired in 1980 as the NHL’s all-time leading scorer. Today he sits at third, as Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier passed him before they quit. Jaromir Jagr is knocking at Gordie’s door and he does so as the leading scorer with 21 goals and 26 assists for the first place Florida Panthers.
Like Jagr, Howe enjoyed a long career in the NHL, Gordie’s best years played with one team, the Detroit Red Wings. Retiring after the 1971-72 season, Howe was retired two seasons before joining the upstart World Hockey Association which enabled him to play with his sons Mark and Marty. The WHA scores were high scoring affairs and Gordie was the league MVP in his first season with is first season. By the end of the decade, both leagues were losing money and something had to give. Most of the WHA folded and a few teams–Edmonton, Winnipeg, Quebec and New England, came into the NHL for the 1979-80 season. The new NHL teams were only able to keep two goalies and two skaters from their original rosters. The merger enabled Gordie to play a season in the NHL with his sons.
Present for a few press conferences, I was part of a mob of reporters trying to bask in the aura of Mr. Hockey. At these type of events, reporters don’t ask Gordie questions, Gordie tells reporters stories. I recall two of them vividly. Regarding the thrill of playing with his sons, and coming to their defense when an opponent would entangle him with some rough pay long the boards, Gordie recalled his son saying, “Dad, I’m glad you care and all, but I can take care of myself. When they hit me I can take it doesn’t hurt until your 250 pounds comes plowing in.”
Another great story was the animosity players on opposing teams had for each others in the 40s, 50s and 60s. Travel was by train and sometimes two teams were on the same train. Gordie remembered, “If you wanted to get to the dining car you didn’t care walk through the other team’s coach. You waited for the train to stop, and walked through two feet of snow if necessary, never walking through the other team’s car. ”
Some like to point out where Jagr’s point totals would be if he hadn’t spent three years in the KHL, lost parts of two other seasons to lockouts, and the entire 2004-2005 season. Most of Howe’s seasons were 70-game campaigns and also lost some seasons in his 40s. He retired in 1971, at age 43, following a 63-game season in which he tallied 52 points. Howe stayed retired for two years, then returned to action with the WHA, ending his playing days at age 52 with New England (nee Hartford–nee Carolina) with 1850 points.
Here are Howe’s stats…
Enough with the numbers, here’s some video of Mr. Howe:
An overview of Gordie Howe from ESPN…
The hockey world is lucky that Gordie has lived into his 80s. Recent years have not been kind to his health and it was feared he might pass. A trip to Mexico for some experimental stem cell research brought renewed life to Mr. Hockey. Out of the public life in recent years, at last report he is resting comfortably at home under the care of family.
Tap of the stick to Gordie Howe.
We close our Gordie Howe tribute with a video featuring both Howe, Jagr and other stars.
The updated Jagr-O-Meter:
The updated Atlantic Division standings…
A Czech newspaper released a list of Czech born players and how they are doing this year. To translate the list: Z=Games, B=Points. The list was compiled for Jagr’s point total was revised upward following a correction in a scoring error, so he has 47 points (21 goals-16 assists).
A recent article, typical of many, telling how Jagr has transformed the Panthers into a competitive team…
Of course, how did Jagr’s career get to this day, when he hopes to tie Howe? JAGRometer.com posted this article in January….