October 04, 2013

The Hunting Trip That Almost Cost Gordie Howe His Life


A lot of hockey fans know that Gordie Howe suffered a fractured skull early in his career, yet obviously overcame to have arguably the greatest career in hockey history.

As scary as that incident was, apparently that was not Gordie's closest brush with death.

Emile Francis, the long time manager/coach of the New York Rangers grew up not far away from the Howe family, and he often got together with Gordie and his brother Vic in the summer. They liked to play baseball.

Here's how Francis tells the story, thanks to the 1968 edition of Sport Review's Pro Hockey magazine:

"A couple of years after he started playing pro hockey, Gordie bought his parents a home in Saskatoon right across the street from the ball park. I'll never forget the day we were coming in to play a game about the same time Gordie and his brother, Vic, were returning from a hunting trip.

"Gordie was driving and Vic was sitting behind him with a shotgun between his knees. They must have suddenly hit a bump because the gun went off. Vic didn't know it was loaded. It tore a hole in the roof of the car, missing the back of Gordie's head by inches."

Scary stuff. Thankfully no one was hurt.

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