Sometimes, things happen in the hockey world that are bigger than a franchise, and that are bigger than the sport itself. Gordie Howe's career and status as Mr. Hockey is one of those things.
Sadly, today at the age of 88, Mr. Howe passed away. His passing is one of those things too.
Howe played for the Detroit Red Wings from 1946 through 1971, an incredible stretch of 25 seasons with one team. He retired, returned to play for the Houston Aeros of the WHA, and played a season with the Hartford Whalers so he could get a chance to play with his sons Mark and Marty. Incredibly, at the age of nearly 70, he skated in one more game with the Detroit Vipers of the IHL.
His numbers are incredible: 1767 games played, 801 goals scored, 1850 points, four Stanley Cups, and 23 all-star game selections. His records for most games played and most seasons played may never be broken.
Howe had recently had struggles with dementia and poor health, and in 2014 he suffered a stroke. This March, Red Wings fans gave Howe an 88th birthday party to remember, realizing that there wouldn't be an opportunity for this kind of celebration in the future.
Condolences to the family of Mr. Howe, the Detroit Red Wings, their fans, and hockey fans everywhere. Today the sport lost another member of its storied generation.
I would be remiss in not including Keith Olbermann's reflection on meeting Howe. The video dates from 2014, shortly after Howe suffered a stroke and there were serious concerns about his health. It is well worth a watch.
Rest in peace, Mr. Hockey.