The WHL junior team Vancouver Giants have been honouring hockey legend (and minority owner) Gordie Howe over the past couple of days. They even have special jerseys for the weekend.
All of which of course leads to several great stories being told about Mr. Hockey.
Let's start with Cam Cole of the Vancouver Sun:
“Those guys that played in the six-team NHL, they have stories to tell,” said Dionne. “If you fought a guy in Montreal on Saturday, you had to fight him again Sunday in Detroit. A lot of bad blood. There was stick-swinging that if we had it today, the guys would be suspended for years to come.”Full Story
“There’s been lots of changes, obviously, since the 60s. I think where it really got stupid for a while — and Gordie was able to play through it, because he had a very mean streak to him — was in the 70s when we expanded so much and World Hockey came in, and we had too many jobs and not enough good players,” Quinn said. “So we started bringing in tough guys that infringed on the rules all the time, and we had bench-clearing brawls, gang fights, sucker-punches were prevalent. There were a lot of guys that did it that way, but they didn’t do it to Gordie.
“But they’d do it to his sons, and then Gordie would exact the payback.”
From Steve Ewen of the Vancouver Province tells this story of a young Pat Quinn:
He was “so excited to play with the guys that he had been watching on TV.” When the session ended, Quinn was getting ready to leave the ice when Howe skated over and asked him what he was doing.Full Story
“Practice is over, Mr. Howe,” he said.
“No it’s not ... get over here,” he was told.
They worked on shooting intricacies for some time.
“I never felt comfortable enough to call him anything but ‘Mr. Howe,’ then,” said Quinn, 70, who will be one of the dignitaries on hand when the Vancouver Giants celebrate Howe’s upcoming 85th birthday on Friday, in conjunction with a visit from the Lethbridge Hurricanes to the Pacific Coliseum.
The Calgary Herald caught up with Bobby Hull, who is also in Vancouver to celebrate Gordie's birthday:
Q: What was your relationship with Gordie like?Full Story
A: I believe we had a mutual admiration society going. He knew that I was out there to play the game within the rules, to try to out-skate him, out-think him, out-pass him, out-shoot him and out-score him. And I felt the same way. Consistency is the mark of a true professional and Gordon was a true professional. He was consistent from the day he began playing in the league until he and I both retired from the same team in the same year. He was an amazing man to be able to play as long as he played and as well as he played.
Q: Were you ever on the receiving end of one of his famous elbows?
A: Gordon would play against you the same way that you played against him. He expected no elbows from me and I received none from him.
And in case you missed this news: The television special Mr. Hockey: The Gordie Howe Story will be appearing on The Hallmark Channel this month.