Hockey legend Gordie Howe dies aged 88

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Ice hockey legend Gordie Howe, known as 'Mr Hockey', died on Friday at the age of 88.

Howe played in more professional hockey games than anyone in history and the Saskatchewan native is the only player to have competed in the NHL during five decades.

Through his time in the World Hockey Association and NHL, Howe played in 2,421 games played, scored 1,071 goals and had 1,518 assists for 2,589 points. 

Wayne Gretzky has since passed him with 1,072 goals and 2,297 assists for 3,369 points, but nobody will probably ever play in more games than number nine.

Just for good measure, Howe returned to the ice in 1997 for one game with the Detroit Vipers of the IHL, making him the only player to play professionally in six decades.

Blessed as a gifted skater with an ambidextrous shot, Howe is the only player to score at least 20 goals in 22 straight seasons. The 23-time All-Star led the Detroit Red Wings to four Stanley Cup titles and he led the league in scoring six times.

Howe was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972. A statue in his honour was placed outside of Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena in 2007 and he received a lifetime achievement award from the NHL in 2008. A year later, Howe’s wife of 56 years, Colleen, died. 

Howe then began to experience declining health and dementia and lived with his four children on a rotating basis until his death. He suffered a stroke in 2014, but initially made a startling recovery.

After one season with the Omaha Knights of the USHL, Howe made his NHL debut with the Red Wings in 1946. When he retired from the NHL in 1971, he was the league’s all-time leading scorer.

Following a year in the Red Wings front office, Howe signed with the Houston Aeros of the World Hockey Association to play with his two sons, Mark and Marty.

Howe played in the WHA for six seasons, winning the league MVP award in 1974 at the age of 46. During the 1979 WHA All-Star Game, Howe played with then-18-year-old Gretzky.

In the WHA, Howe spent four seasons with the Aeros and his final two years with the New England Whalers. When the Whalers joined the NHL in 1979, Howe remained with the team and played in 80 games with 15 goals and 26 assists.

The Whalers made the playoff in their first NHL season, but were swept by the Montreal Canadiens in the first round. Howe retired for a second time after the season at the age of 52.