Gordie Howe was beloved across the National Hockey League. To me he was always the nicest and kindest celebrity I had ever met.
I was going to hockey games starting with the opening of the Los Angeles Kings in 1967 and afterwards all of my friends would go to a bar at the golf course and hang out with all of the players. Back then they were just normal guys and not these high paid superstars of today.
At the time I had no real idea of who Gordie Howe was. He asked me to come and sit with him and another player Frank Mahovlich. They were the funniest two guys I had ever met and we laughed and had a great time. The one thing Gordie taught me that night was how to sing word for word O’Canada. He was a true gentleman and never for a moment would you ever think anything different of him.
Almost 50 years later I remember that night with great clarity and it is one of my most cherished memories.
Howe, who passed away at age 88 on June 10, 2016 early Friday morning, spent 25 of his 26 NHL campaigns in the Motor City, and is considered the greatest athlete to have ever performed there.
Mr. Hockey’s status was further cemented today by Detroit’s GM, Ken Holland.
“He was one of the greatest players, if not the greatest, in the history of the National Hockey League and the greatest Red Wing of all time,” Holland said, per the Associated Press.
In the end, it’s clear Howe will be remembered in Detroit for more than his on-ice achievements. He transcended hockey and became a fabric of the community, and will forever remain that way.
“He was a big power forward, one of the biggest players of his time, with as much skill and toughness as anybody who ever played,” Holland said. “As a human being, he was incredible. He loved to be around people and to make them laugh. He was an incredible ambassador for the sport.
“This is a sad day for hockey.”
I’m so glad I had the privilege of spending time with you Gordie and I’m sure that we will meet again on the other side. I know that you are playing hockey with the angels. Be blessed sweet spirit.