Gordie Howe, Former NHL Star, Dies at Age 88

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJune 10, 2016

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 06:  Gordie Howe waves to the crowd during his son's Mark Howe of the Philadelphia Flyers number-retirement ceremony on March 6, 2012 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers would go on to defeat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2.  (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)
Len Redkoles/Getty Images

The hockey world lost a true legend Friday, as longtime Detroit Red Wings star Gordie Howe died at the age of 88.

Howe's son, Marty, confirmed his father's death to CNN.com's Jill Martin. The Howe family released a statement regarding the news, via Dave Stubbs of NHL.com:

Hockey legend [Gordie] Howe, age 88, passed away peacefully this morning with his family by his side. The Howe family would like to thank friends and fans for their love and support. Gordie had a special connection with Red Wings fans and was always touched by their commitment. We are celebrating the life of a devoted husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and a friend to all. Arrangements will be announced once they are finalized.

The Red Wings tweeted the following regarding Howe's death:

The Hockey Hall of Fame also paid tribute to one of the greatest players in NHL history:

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman released a statement on Howe's death, via Stephen Whyno of The Associated Press:

David Shepardson of Reuters provided a statement from Barack Obama:

The National Hockey League Players' Association remembered Mr. Hockey on Twitter: "A sad day for players past and present as we have lost one of the greats. Rest in peace Gordie Howe."

Former Red Wings star and current Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman spoke on Howe's death, via TSN SportsCentre:

It was very saddening to hear the news of Gordie’s passing this morning. He has been an icon not only in Detroit, but throughout the entire hockey world for as long as I can remember. As one of the greatest players ever to play in the NHL, the majority of his career being in Detroit, it was an honor to wear the same uniform, spend time with, laugh, joke and seek advice from him. Gordie’s humility and kindness left a permanent impression on me, greatly influencing how I tried to conduct myself throughout my career.

Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press reported on Saturday that, "Public visitation will be held 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena. The funeral service will be 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament, 9844 Woodward Ave., in Detroit. The celebrant will be Father J.J. Mech."

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Ken Campbell of the Hockey News reported in 2014 that the Hall of Famer's health had "taken a turn for the worse" following a stroke he suffered in October of that year.

He subsequently underwent stem cell treatment, however, and recovered after reportedly being near death, according to George Sipple of USA Today.

Howe spent 25 seasons in the NHL as a member of the Red Wings and was the all-time leader in goals (801) and assists (1,049) when he retired. He made the All-Star team on 23 occasions and won the Stanley Cup four times.

He also played six years in the WHA with the Houston Aeros and New England Whalers before completing one final NHL campaign in 1979-80 as a member of the Hartford Whalers.

ESPN Stats & Info summed up Howe's career accomplishments with the following tweet:

Perhaps above all else, Howe earned the respect of his peers by being the quintessential hockey player for a quarter of a century.

According to Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Flyers legend Bobby Clarke is among those who view Howe in that light:

Per Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe, all-time great Boston Bruins defenseman Bobby Orr was quick to pay Howe the ultimate compliment:

Howe was synonymous with the sport he played so well. In addition, the act of registering a goal, an assist and a fight in one game has been dubbed the "Gordie Howe hat trick" due to his penchant for racking up points and playing a physical brand of hockey.

Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press had the following to say regarding Howe's place in Detroit sports history:

While Wayne Gretzky surpassed many of his NHL records, Howe is still the standard-bearer in a number of categories.

His 1,767 career regular-season games played are the most all-time, and he remains the oldest player to take part in an NHL game at 52 years and 11 days old.

Born in Floral, Saskatchewan, Canada, and raised in nearby Saskatoon, Howe is the only player to compete in the NHL across five different decades, a mark unlikely to be matched.

His longevity and contributions to the game are legendary, and he promises to forever have a place on hockey's proverbial Mt. Rushmore.

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