Gordie Howe, a Canadian hockey legend who played over two decades in the NHL has died. He was 88.
Known as Mr. Hockey, Howe died early Friday morning at his daughter’s home in Ohio.
Howe was inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame in 1972. Over 26 seasons in the NHL and six more in the WHA he won the Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings four times, six Hart Trophies as the league’s most valuable player and six Art Ross Trophies as the leading scorer.
“Thoughts and prayers to the Howe family as Gordie Howe passes away at the age of 88. #9RIP.” The Red Wings tweeted.
In 2014, Howe suffered a significant stroke while visiting his daughter in Lubbock, Texas. The Saskatchewan-native had been travelling to Mexico to undergo experimental stem cell treatments.
Howe is survived by his three sons, Marty, Mark and Murray and his daughter Kathleen and nine grandchildren.
The NHL star’s wife, Colleen, passed away in 2009 at the age of 76 after battling Pick’s disease, a rare form of dementia similar to Alzheimer’s.
Before Howe’s retirement from hockey in 1980, Mr. Hockey played six seasons with Mark and Marty and in his final season Howe played on the same line as his sons in Hartford.
Off the ice, Howe received a number of national honours. In 1971, he was given the Order of Canada and received a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2000.
Howe also received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Saskatchewan in 2010.
Condolences poured in from hockey players, fans, and fellow Canadians following the news of the hockey legend’s passing.
Hockey great Wayne Gretzky, who has credited Howe for his playing career, called Mr. Hockey “greatest hockey player ever.”
“Unfortunately we lost the greatest hockey player ever today, but more importantly the nicest man I have ever met,” Gretzky said on social media. “Sending our thoughts and prayers to the Howe family and to the millions of hockey fans who like me loved Gordie Howe. RIP Mr. Hockey.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Howe would “always be Mr. Hockey.”
“All of Canada has deep connections to Detroit because of Gordie Howe,” Trudeau said Friday. “He was a gentleman but he was also very much a tough guy and showcased the best of what Canadians like to think ourselves as, highlighted both our national sport and national identity on an international stage.”
READ MORE: What is a Gordie Howe hat trick?
Interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose called Howe “a giant of a man in every sense.”
“To this day, Gordie Howe is a household name and an idol for thousands of even the youngest hockey players around the world. He loved the game. The game, its fans, and our country loved him right back,” Ambrose said in a statement. “Gordie Howe embodied what it means to play the game the Canadian way. He was big, tough and skilled. There will never be another one like him, and he will be dearly missed.”
Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper extended condolences to family and friends.
“Mr. Hockey will always be remembered as a legend of our beloved game,” Harper said on social media.
In 2015, Harper announced the bridge between Windsor, ON. And Detroit would be named the Gordie Howe Bridge.
Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch called it a sad day for the hockey world and his organization while calling Howe “one of the greatest hockey players of all time.”
“The Red Wings organization and the National Hockey League would not be what they are today without Gordie Howe,” Ilitch said in a statement. “There is no nickname more fitting for him than ‘Mr. Hockey.’ He embodied on and off the ice what it meant to be both a Red Wing and a Detroiter.
“He was tough, skilled, and consistently earned success at the highest level. His achievements are numerous and his accomplishments immeasurable. It is truly a blessing to have had him both in our organization and our city for so many years. He will be deeply missed,” the Red Wings owner said.
Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said “Howe was an incredible ambassador for the game of hockey.”
“He was as fierce and competitive as they come but away from the rink he was truly engaging and personable and always enjoyed his interaction with the fans,” Holland said in a statement. “Gordie set the standard for this franchise during the Original Six era, winning four Stanley Cups, capturing numerous awards and setting an abundance of league records.”
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman called Howe “incomparable.”
“Gordie’s greatness travels far beyond mere statistics; it echoes in the words of veneration spoken by countless players who joined him in the Hockey Hall of Fame and considered him their hero.” Bettman said in a statement. “Gordie’s toughness as competitor on the ice was equaled only by his humour and humility away from it. No sport could have hoped for a greater, more-beloved ambassador.”