CBC Digital Archives

Gordie Howe goes home

From the frozen ponds of rural Saskatchewan to hockey's big league in the Motor City, Gordie Howe was perhaps the game's most dominant player of his era. From 1946 to 1971 he was the star right winger for the Detroit Red Wings, setting league records and winning the Stanley Cup four times. CBC Archives presents a selection of clips about the man fans know as "Mr. Hockey."

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On July 22, 1966, Saskatoon is abuzz with excitement - it's Gordie Howe day in the city. Thousands line the street to cheer their hometown hero, the Detroit Red Wings' famed #9. Howe is typically modest and shyly accepts the praise. "I'm very proud of the fact that I was born in the Saskatoon area and that's probably one of the main reasons why the wife and I both insist that I am a Canadian and I'm going to stay that way," he tells his adoring fans in this CBC Radio report.
• Gordie Howe was born the sixth of nine children on March 31, 1928, in Floral, Sask. When Howe was just five years old, he strapped on his first pair of skates and took to the ice like a natural.

• At 15, he tried out for the NHL. Inexperienced and homesick, he wasn't drafted. But the next year, he signed his first professional contract with the Omaha Knights of the United States Hockey League. In the beginning of the 1946-47 season, he joined the NHL's Detroit Red Wings.

• The Saskatoon Star Phoenix reported on Howe's arrival in the city. "At 2:31 p.m. a shout went up from somewhere near the gate: "Here he comes! Here comes Gordie!" Pandemonium! Even more children appeared from seemingly nowhere, running en masse down the hillsides like a Cossack charge in a 1930 movie. The cause of the stampede was a chartered bus bearing Gordie Howe, his wife, hockey and civic personalities. This was the children's reception for Gordie Howe, one of Saskatoon's most famous native sons, on the day proclaimed in his honor."

• Howe's professional career spanned 32 seasons over six decades. Considered one of the greatest players of the game, he appeared in a total of 29 All-Star games and was in the top 5 in NHL scoring for 20 consecutive years.

• Over the course of his career, Howe played with the Detroit Red Wings, the Houston Aeros, the New England Whalers and the Hartford Whalers. In his NHL career, Howe scored 801 goals, 1,049 assists, 1,850 points. He had also played a total of 2,429 games, including NHL, WHA and playoffs, and was honoured with 6 MVP titles (Hart Memorial Trophy).

• Colleen Howe, Howe's wife, was the first woman sports agent ever. She also founded the first Junior A hockey team, the Detroit Junior Red Wings. Known as Mrs. Hockey, Colleen Howe's sharp business acumen was praised by her husband and sons. Colleen Howe was responsible for the trademark of their nicknames "Mr. Hockey" and "Mrs. Hockey." The Howes had four children, two of whom, Mark and Marty, played in the NHL with their father.

• In 2002, Colleen Howe was diagnosed with Pick's disease, a rare form of dementia which can dramatically change a person's personality. As of 2005, there is no cure for the disease.

Medium: Radio
Program: Between Ourselves
Broadcast Date: Aug. 17, 1966
Guest(s): Gordie Howe, Athol Murray
Reporter: Phil Reimer
Duration: 7:09

Last updated: April 26, 2013

Page consulted on April 14, 2014

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