9 unforgettable Gordie Howe stories


Gordie Howe was a legend in so many ways, and there are plenty of anecdotes to prove it.

The most enduring figure in NHL history died Friday at age 88, and tributes are pouring in from around the hockey world.

Beyond his on-ice accolades and accomplishments, Howe's character is defined by the countless stories being retold in tribute to his life and career.

Here are nine of the best anecdotes that help define Mr. Hockey's legacy.

There was the time he taught another legend a lesson:

After Howe suffered a serious stroke in 2014, ESPN's Keith Olbermann recounted the time Howe fractured his skull in the 1950 playoffs and returned to win the scoring title the next season.

Here's a vivid reminder that Howe was not to be tested.

Howe was tough as nails at the rink, but he had a great sense of humor off the ice.

His vision was simply unparalleled.

Howe was apparently ambidextrous.

Wayne Gretzky relayed a great story to Dan Patrick on Friday, as told to him by Harry Neale, who coached Howe with the New England Whalers when Howe was 50 years old.

"They had played like four games in seven nights and (Neale) had an optional practice. Gordie showed up to the rink and (Neale) said, 'What are you doing here?' (and Howe) said 'No, no, I've got to practice.'"

"Harry said, 'I had to hide his skates from him at 50 years old so he'd take a day off."

Related - Gretzky: Howe was 'the greatest hockey player who ever played'

Neale told another classic story to Greg Thomas of Slapshot Diaries in an older piece that recirculated Friday, highlighting Howe's penchant for payback years after the original offense:

Bobby Baun, with whom I played junior, tells a great story about Howe. When he played for Toronto his first year, he hit Gordie Howe in the Olympia in Detroit. Howe wasn’t knocked out but he didn’t know where he was as he got to the bench.

That incident occurred in 1960. In 1967 or 1968, Baun was playing for the Seals in Oakland against Detroit at the Olympia. Almost the exact same incident happened again. Howe came down, cut across the ice and Baun slipped across to hit him like he did his first year in Toronto. Howe saw him coming and crosschecked him right in the neck.

Baun said, "I couldn’t breathe for two minutes. I thought he had broken my neck and when I finally looked up after ten or fifteen seconds of not knowing where the hell I was, Gordie was looming over top of me." He said, "Now we are even, you son of a bitch." That was Gordie’s theory and he lived by it. If you asked players if roughing Howe up was a good idea, they would tell you it wasn’t.

Never forget.

Howe's No. 9 was retired by the Detroit Red Wings in 1972 and by the Hartford Whalers in 1981, but the Carolina Hurricanes chose not to retire it when the Whalers moved to Raleigh in 1997.

That hasn't stopped Hurricanes players from respecting Howe, though.

9 unforgettable Gordie Howe stories
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