As I reported earlier today on Twitter Vic Howe, Gordie Howe's brother and former New York Rangers player, has passed away. He was 85.
Vic, the younger and smaller brother of the legendary Gordie Howe, could appreciate the unfair pressure placed upon Wayne Gretzky's siblings. Coming from the same family everyone expects you to be similar to the most successful brother, and if you faltered early you were considered to be a big bust.
"Being Gordie's brother was great," admitted Vic. "But trying to play like him, well, that was another story! At times there was a great deal of pressure on me. I know I put a lot of pressure on myself."
"There was never any doubt in my mind that Gordie was a better player than me. But it just seemed that every time I turned around, somebody was always comparing the two of us. It was just something I had to live with."
Vic recalled a specific incident back in Saskatoon with the WHL that he would relive in his career several times.
"I had a breakaway and I went in on goal but had some trouble putting the puck past the goalie." said Vic, who like Gordie played right wing. "I missed the shot. I got back over to the bench and sat down and our coach, Doug Bentley, stepped behind me and said 'Gordie wouldn't have missed that shot.' So it didn't matter what I did. It would never be good enough."
Vic Howe never seriously pursued a hockey career until his brother turned pro. Ironically, he likely never would have been given a shot at the NHL if he wasn't the brother of Gordie Howe.
Vic played parts of 3 seasons with the New York Rangers - 33 games in total - and scoring 3 goals and 7 points. His biggest highlight was getting a chance to play against Detroit and his brother.
"I can remember playing against Gordie a couple of times. I even recall lining up against him and then having to go into the corner against him for a puck. He took it easy on me and didn't give me any of the elbows he is famous for!"
When he wasn't making a rare appearance with the Rangers, Vic bounced around the minor league circuit. He played in 6 different leagues ranging from Nelson British Columbia to the British Isles - where he played with the Harringay Racers.
Vic returned to Canada and became a constable for the Canadian National Railway in Moncton, New Brunswick.