DETROIT – The legendary Detroit Red Wings player Gordie Howe has died.
He was 88.
Howe played more than 1,700 games in the NHL and scored more than 800 goals -- only Wayne Gretzky has more. He is widely known simply as "Mr. Hockey."
In Detroit, he is a legend. He won the Stanley Cup with the Red Wings four times, won six Hart Trophies as the league's most valuable player, and won six Art Ross Trophies as the leading scorer during his time with Detroit between 1946 and 1971.
He still holds numerous team records. Howe is so beloved in Detroit, across Michigan and in his home country of Canada that a new bridge to be built between Detroit and Windsor has been named in his honor: Gordie Howe International Bridge.
He had been a fixture at Joe Louis Arena long after he retired. He was a favorite among fans and current players, who often spoke about his presence around the dressing room.
President Obama reacts to Howe's death
"The list of hockey players who suited up in six different decades, including returning to the ice after being inducted into the Hall of Fame, is a short one: it starts and ends with Gordie Howe," Obama said in a statement released Friday night. "But the list of kids who skated around the pond until dark, picturing themselves passing, scoring, and enforcing like Howe, dreaming of hoisting the Stanley Cup like him – that one comprises too many to count. Howe’s productivity, perseverance, and humility personified his adopted hometown of Detroit, to which he brought four championships and which he represented as an All-Star more than 20 times. The greatest players define their game for a generation; over more than half a century on the ice, Mr. Hockey defined it for a lifetime. Michelle and I send our condolences to his sons and daughter, his family, and his loyal fans from Hockeytown to Hartford to Houston and across North America."
Health issues, treatment
Last year, Howe's family said he underwent stem cell treatment after he suffered a stroke. The family said he had a "miraculous" recovery after he underwent the treatment.
Howe's 87th birthday was a special one. His former teammate and longtime friend Ted Lindsay said he was honored to have the opportunity to wish him a happy birthday after Howe underwent the treatment in Mexico.
He's the kindest hockey player who ever played, as far as I'm concerned, but I'm a little prejudice," said Lindsay.
Yes, Mr. Lindsay may be a bit biased after playing alongside Howe during the Red Wings' glory years. But that's exactly the way everyone else remembers Mr. Hockey -- off the ice. On the ice, however, Howe had the reputation of a mean, fierce competitor. Hockey greats said his physicality matched his talent with the puck. In his illustrious career he amassed 1,685 penalty minutes.
Now, decades after he hung up his skates, hockey fans still refer to the "Gordie Howe Hat Trick," which is when a player scores a goal, tallies an assist and gets in a fight all in the same game. It's disputed how many times Howe himself actually achieved such a hat trick.