In honour of Mr. Hockey: Nine must-reads on Gordie Howe

Remembering the man who wore number nine with nine wonderful stories from friends, admirers—and Peter Gzowski

Sure, he had the records, and the legend, and the reputation—after all, they named a combination of a goal, an assist, and a fight after this multitalented athlete. But the things that earned Gordie Howe the mantle of “Mr. Hockey” go beyond his exploits on the ice. His gentlemanly humility, his fierce loyalty to his friends and ailing wife, and his tremendous kindnesses—a sharp contrast to his sharp-elbowed play in five decades’ worth of rinks—made him transcendent.

As Canada and “Hockeytown” Detroit mourn the loss of Howe, who died on Friday at the age of 88, here are nine must-reads from Maclean’s, our archives, and beyond—in honour of the number he wore on his back, and the man inside the jersey.

Felix Gatt and Gordie Howe in 2014. (Felix Gatt/Facebook)

‘I lost my big brother.’

How a man who can’t skate became best friends with Gordie Howe


Gordie Roberts (left) and Gordie Howe (centre). (Hockey Hall of Fame)

“I think about how strong he was.”

Gordie Roberts remembers a man who inspired his name—and later, his teammate

“There is, in fact, very little about Gordie Howe that isn’t admirable.”

From one legend to another: Peter Gzowski’s 1963 Maclean’s profile of Gordie Howe

Gordie Howe #9 of the New England Whalers scores his 1,000th career goal against the Birmingham Bulls goalie John Garrett on December 8, 1977. (Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

“I’m thinking, ‘Oh, please, Gordie, get your 1,000th with somebody else.'”

Goaltender John Garrett’s moment on the wrong side of Gordie Howe scoring history

“The year the Saskatchewan farm boy grew up.”

Charlie Gillis on why the 1968-69 season was the year that made Gordie Howe


Gordie Howe, Detroit Red Wings star forward, is surrounded by teammates as he kneels at boards after scoring his 544th goal and tieing the National Hockey League all-time record on Oct. 27, 1963 in Detroit. Howe’s goal equaled the record held by former Montreal Canadiens star Maurice Richard and came against his team on Detroit ice. From left: Larry Jeffrey, Bill Gadsby, Howe, and Terry Sawchuck. Behind Howe is Alex Faulkner. (Alvin Quinn/AP)

“I hope you don’t mind if I shed a tear or two.”

From Maclean’s in 1966: Howe returns to his native Saskatchewan for Gordie Howe Day

Gordie Howe watches the play from behind the Hartford Whalers bench during NHL action against the Montreal Canadiens in Montreal in 1980. (Doug Ball/The Canadian Press)

“Dad always had a certain mystique.”

The many ways we’ll remember Gordie Howe

Gordie Howe of the Detroit Red Wings poses with the hockey puck in the dressing room at Madison Square Garden after he scored the 500th goal of his National Hockey League career in New York City, March 14, 1962. Howe scored in the second period against the New York Rangers. Rangers won, 3-2. (AP Photo)

“Gordie Howe’s hockey story became the hockey story.”

Stephen Brunt on the intergenerational appeal of Gordie Howe

Workers hang a “Thank you Mr Hockey” banner above the Gordie Howe entrance of the Joe Louis Hockey Arena in memory of late National Hockey League (NHL) player Gordie Howe in Detroit, Michigan, U.S. June 10, 2016. (Rebecca Cook/Reuters)

“Howe was from a different era, for both hockey and for the city.”

Searching for traces of Mr. Hockey in “Hockeytown” Detroit