November 19, 2014

Gordie Howe's Near 50 Goal Season

With 975 career professional goals, including 801 in the National Hockey League, there is not a lot that Gordie Howe failed to accomplish in his illustrious career.

But hitting the magical 50 goal mark in one season did elude him. You can be sure Montreal Canadiens fan, especially the Rocket Richard loyalists, were sure to let him know.

In his 32 major league seasons (26 in NHL, 6 more in WHA), Howe was an amazingly consistent scorer. He scored over 20 goals from 1949 through to 1978! Fourteen times Howe was in the top 5 in goal scoring!

Five times Howe led the league in goal scoring, including in 1952-53 season when he reached 49 goals. This was all in 70 game seasons, by the way.

Yet that 49 sticks out like a sore thumb, just aching for one more goal.

Myth has it that Howe did score a 50th goal. He shot the puck so hard it went right through the netting. Without the benefit of video replay back in those days, the referee missed it and played continued. Gordie Howe's 50th goal never counted.

In his 1995 book "and . . . Howe!" Gordie confirms this story is indeed a myth.

"I don't know where the tale got started. It was probably from some fan wishing I had gotten it," he said.

But he did go on to say there was another goal scored that season that should have been his but was awarded to Red Kelly instead. Howe deflected Kelly's point shot past the Boston goaltender but Bruins defenseman Hal Laycoe told the referee it deflected off of him. The ref awarded Kelly the goal. Howe knew he had scored it, but he said nothing as he knew Kelly was chasing his own goal scoring record - 20 goals by a defenseman.

Had the goal been called correctly Howe would have joined Rocket Richard as the second player to score 50 goals in one season.


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