Saying goodbye to retiring hockey greats in 1972
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."
The show also documents three other '71 hockey exits: Toronto's George Armstrong and Montreal's John Ferguson and Jean Béliveau.
• On Oct. 16, 1946, Howe's NHL career began when he played his first game with the Detroit Red Wings. He had been scouted in his hometown of Floral, Sask., and sent to training camp.
• Howe was later dubbed "Mr. Elbows," mainly by his opponents, whom he was able to knock down with one elbow check.
• Montreal Canadien J.C. Tremblay was reportedly carried off the ice on a stretcher after Howe elbowed him. Although Howe was a big player for his time (205 pounds, 6 feet), he was still a high scorer. Howe was a six-time winner of the NHL scoring title.
• He also won four Stanley Cups (1950, 1952, 1954, 1955) while playing with the Red Wings.
• Howe retired from hockey a total of three times. This clip reported on his first retirement, from the Detroit Red Wings, at the end of the '71 season. He returned in 1973 to play for the World Hockey Association's Houston Aeros. In 1979, he signed on again with the NHL, playing for the Hartford Whalers only to retire again at the end of the season.
• At 69, Howe came back to professional hockey for one last year. From 1997-98, he played for the International Hockey League's Detroit Vipers.
• George Armstrong, heard in this CBC Radio clip, also retired at the end of the '71 season. From 1950-71, he played a team record of 1,187 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
• Two more retirees this year were Canadiens' John Ferguson, known as hockey's first "goon," and Jean Béliveau, 10-time Stanley Cup winner.
• The radio clip with Howe and Armstrong was part of a year-end sports roundup for 1971. Also on the show was an interview with CFL MVP Winnipeg Blue Bomber Don Jonas.
Broadcast Date: Jan. 1, 1972
Guest(s): George Armstrong, Gordie Howe
Host: Alec Bollini, Fred Walker, George Atkins
Last updated: June 13, 2012
Page consulted on December 6, 2013
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