As the son of Mr. Hockey, Murray Howe picked up a lot of on-ice tips from his father Gordie Howe. But in Murray's new book, Nine Lessons I Learned From My Father, he's sharing a different kind of wisdom he learned from his dad.
"I woke up a few days after my dad passed away — on Father's Day in June 2016 — and I just had a huge hole in my heart," Murray Howe, Gordie's youngest son, said on CBC's Windsor Morning. "I thought 'what could I still do for him even though he was no longer with us in body?' And what better tribute than to be able to put down on paper who he was as a man, what he stood for, and what he meant to me as a father."
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Unlike his older brothers Mark and Marty, Murray didn't become a professional hockey player. After an unsuccessful spell on the University of Michigan hockey team, Murray realized he needed to find a "plan B," and spoke to his parents about it.
"All they wanted for all of us kids was to just be happy and to follow our own passions," said Murray.
He became a doctor, and after his father's death, an author.
"I think the take home message that I got from all of this was that my dad's greatness was really not what he did on the ice," said Murray. "It's really about the power of giving of yourself and nobody did that better than Mr. Hockey."
Murray said that his grandmother had a big influence on Gordie's generosity, which he paid forward all of his life.
"She just loved him so much when he really needed it most," he said. "[Gordie] had a learning disorder and failed third grade twice so he was teased mercilessly as a young boy. But she lifted him up and said 'Gordie, you're going to be great some day don't let anybody tell you otherwise' and she just loved him unconditionally."
That sense of love and acceptance was passed down to all the Howe children, said Murray, who remembers accompanying his dad to the Detroit Olympia arena where the Red Wings played at the time.
"While the Red Wings were dressing up for practice I had the ice all to myself so I could just skate around there and imagine I was playing for the Red Wings and the crowd is cheering. It was such a huge thrill for me."
Gordie had an imaginative sense of humour, and Murray remembers he once interrupted one of these skates with a wrist shot all the way from the other end of the rink.
"He knew that I would think it was funny," said Murray. "That was clearly one of the most special moments to be down there at Olympia with my dad."
Of the nine lesson in his book, Murray said he can't pick one that sticks with him the most.
"I hope that it inspires everybody to be the best examples of themselves that they can be and to give everything of themselves that they can."