There was a great post by Jeff Marek of the CBC this week.
In his pursuit demystify the term "Gordie Howe Hat Trick," he actually noted and graded every one of Gordie Howe's confirmed career fights. Based on newspaper reports and the rare video clips available, he offers an interesting analysis of each tilt.
Here's a couple of examples:
Jan. 30, 1949
Howe vs. Maurice Richard (Canadiens)
By all accounts this was a doozy. Both men crashed into each other and came up swinging. After being separated, both got free and started fighting again. Richard was still fuming as he went to the penalty box, but not before he fired off another punch, this one at Detroit winger Sid Abel that grazed referee King Clancy’s face. That punch earned the Rocket a misconduct.
March 21, 1954
Howe vs. Ted Kennedy (Maple Leafs)
Howe’s high stick sliced Kennedy’s ear for eight stitches, which led to the Leaf lighting Howe up in a spirited fight. This was the second time Howe would record the his namesake’s hat trick as he scored the game’s first goal in the opening frame and then assisted on Ted Lindsay’s 25th and 26th goals of the season in the third period.
You can read the rest of Howe's fight card at Jeff Marek's CBC blog.
Interestingly, Howe "only" had 22 career fights, and only three after his famous 1959 destroying of Louie Fontinato.