Could Howe have played even longer?

Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by blamebettman*, Nov 3, 2011.

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  1. 40 points, played every game during the 79-80 season at the age of 51. Not sure what his ice time was on that team...but obviously the man was a freak of nature

    for those of you who watched him during his final season...what kind of player was he? Was he truly "done"?
     
  2. Canadiens1958

    Canadiens1958 Registered User

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    Gordie Howe

    Saw him play his last season, even took a youth hockey team to see his last game in Montreal. Also saw him during his WHA days.

    Played every game but not a regular shift. Hockey smarts and knowledge of the game got him thru the season. The points were more than a minor league replacement would have produced but Gordie Howe's time had come.
     
  3. Hawkey Town 18

    Hawkey Town 18 Registered User

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    I would expect is offense to be better than a minor league replacement as you said, but how was his defense? Was he a big liability out there or was he also still slightly above replacement player level?
     
  4. tarheelhockey

    tarheelhockey Highest Boss

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    It's amazing to me that pre-expansion stars managed to get through their careers without the injury issues of Orr, Lemieux, Gretzky, Lindros, Crosby, etc. Was it just that different of a game?
     
  5. Canadiens1958

    Canadiens1958 Registered User

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    Defense

    Gordie Howe's defense was acceptable within the confines of his limitations. Showed a +9. Relied on positioning but did not play against the top lines. Was not asked to pressure forecheck or assume speed defensive roles.
     
  6. revolverjgw

    revolverjgw Registered User

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    One thing I notice when watching old games on NHL/ESPN Classic/etc is that it rarely looked like they were hitting to hurt the other player, it was mainly to separate them from the puck. When a big open ice hit occurred in those games, you really take notice. Rarely does a guy get laid out, if they go down it was mainly from losing their balance. There was more respect and care for your opponent, because let's face it, if somebody back then was playing as aggressively and forcefully as, say, Lindros, eventually someone would smack their head off the ice or the boards and there would be a death. You can just tell by watching the old games that the physical element was a lot different and less dangerous. I guess the rough-and-tumble reputation of that era comes from the idea that if you were disrespectful and reckless, you were going to get the hell beat out of you because there was no tolerance for that. Cross Howe and you're going to get an elbow to your head and no goon is going to come to your rescue.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2011
  7. JaymzB

    JaymzB Registered User

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    I personally think it had more to do with the equipment, rather than respect. Hitting back in the day could hurt/injure the hitter about as much as the player getting hit, due to the fact they were wearing at most, small pieces of leather.
     
  8. tarheelhockey

    tarheelhockey Highest Boss

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    It doesn't seem as though knee injuries were as prevalent either. We've lost about as many great stars (Orr, Bure, Neely, potentially Malkin) to knee injuries as to concussions.

    Think the length and intensity of the season contributes to that? I notice my knees getting a little weaker if I play 3 high-intensity games a week.
     
  9. Canadiens1958

    Canadiens1958 Registered User

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    Skates

    Tube skates tended to have more glide while blade skates tend to have more dig or bite.

    Also the weight of the players has increased dramatically. Fifty years ago it was rare to find an NHL player weighing over 200 lbs, today it is rare to find an NHL player weighing under 200 lbs. Structure of the knee has not changed. Still two blades supporting a greater weight.
     
  10. WaveRaven

    WaveRaven Registered User

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    I agree and having not watched nhl since the jets left it's even harder hitting now then in 96.

    I saw Gordy in the WHA lots as a kid and back then they'd let you walk right up to glass where there were no seats. Aero's dump the puck in the corner Gordy and the Jets D-Man go into the corner for the puck as they slide by on the glass by I can hear the Jet D-Man yelling in pain. Gordy had slid up the but end of his stick pushing up in his arm pit as hard as he could rubbing him along the boards. You could not see it really unless you were right there, no penalty call at all. It was a thing of beauty, stealth punishment :naughty:

    Huge Huge respect for Mr Hockey. As a 48 year old myself I could not imagine competing with 20 year olds.

    I would love to have seen him in his prime get one of his hat tricks :)

    It was time but I think both #9's Howe and Hull wanted one last go in the National Hockey League.
     
  11. overpass

    overpass Registered User

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    There's a good article on Gordie Howe's 79-80 season in the SI Vault. I think it was in the Jan21 issue by EM Swift.

    Summary: Howe was extremely strong and well-conditioned for his age (resting heart rate of 48 bpm.) He still had the elbows and stick to create the intimidation factor that gave him space. Still had good instincts, skill, and creativity with the puck. (Although obviously age must have taken its toll in every area to some degree.)

    He had trouble adjusting to covering the point defensively instead of sticking to his check all over the ice. His coach said "Sometimes he forgets. You just close your eyes and hope."
     
  12. Hardyvan123

    Hardyvan123 [email protected]

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    In a word yes it was quite different and even subtle differences can have quite a bit of impact if there is a multiplier factor.
     
  13. Crosbyfan

    Crosbyfan Registered User

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  14. ted1971

    ted1971 History Of Hockey

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    The Players these days are also Bigger, Faster, and Stronger.It probably helped a little bit that the Players mostly policed Themselves.
     
  15. tjcurrie

    tjcurrie Registered User

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    I wasnt even a twinkle in my Dad's eye back then but I would say the respect thing and the players purpose back then was very different. As you said hitting was more to separate the player from the puck. I dont think their eyes lit up when they saw an opportunity to blow a guy up. That could be tied in partly to the equipment thing so both could be right. I dont believe though that players had intentions that they do nowadays regardless. Just as people I think hey were different back then.
     
  16. tarheelhockey

    tarheelhockey Highest Boss

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    It would certainly make sense that in an era when the players were being paid modestly and expected to go work for a living after age 35, they wouldn't have been out there trying to put each other in the hospital. I'd imagine some of the blindside techniques of the modern era would have been considered out of line back then.
     
  17. tjcurrie

    tjcurrie Registered User

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    I would say most definitely yes.
     
  18. JaymzB

    JaymzB Registered User

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    Perhaps, but there are also a lot more stores about stick incidents. Stuff that could land a player in jail these days.
     
  19. Canadiens1958

    Canadiens1958 Registered User

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    O6 Era Incidents

    Some tend to romanticize the O6 era forgeting that there were incidents and near tragedies similar to the Bill Masterson tragedy in 1968.

    Skull fractures - Gordie Howe, Elmer Lach, both returned to continue their careers. Paul Meger did not.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Meger

    January 1956 Bill Gadsby caught Tim Horton in open ice, result season ending leg and jaw fracture.

    Red Sullivan almost died from a spear.

    1963 Lou Fontinato career ending neck fracture.

    These are just from memory.
     
  20. tjcurrie

    tjcurrie Registered User

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    I think, and again I wasn't around back then, that there were freak things that happened like Gordie missing a check and hitting the boards as well as a guy losing his temper on someone, but for the most part the mentality was different. There wasnt the constant barrage of head shots and attempts to really knock a guy in to next week. Thats what I think anyways.
     
  21. Killion

    Killion Registered User

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    Players wicks tended to be a lot longer in days past, certainly prior to the initial 67 expansion, the "Golden Era". They met so many times over the course of a season that slights & infractions were remembered. There wasnt the necessity for immediate violent retaliation unless demanded. Take their number, shake it off & skate away. Get even later, next game, next month, whenever; do it behind the play so you dont draw a penalty. Karma... eventually you'll get even & then some. Howe was a very patient man in that regard, and ya, Id bet he could have maintained another 2-3yrs on a shortened schedule & role but what for?. He'd fulfilled a mind blowing dream having played with his sons, the only reason he bothered with it at all in the first place.
     
  22. nutbar

    nutbar Registered User

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    Just a question about the Whalers 1979-80 season...where were the Whalers home games played? All in Springfield? Or just part of the season in Springfield and partly in Hartford?
     
  23. TasteofFlames

    TasteofFlames Registered User

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    Something to keep in mind is that Howe was 2 years retired when he came back in the WHA. Without the opportunity to play with Mark and Marty, I don't think Howe would have had the will to come back, must less play through age 50. The chance to play with his kids truly reinvigorated the aging and battered superstar. Reports about Howe's comeback frequently state that he was a new man when he stepped on the ice in Houston compared to his last bit in Detroit.
     
  24. Canadiens1958

    Canadiens1958 Registered User

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    Not Only Gordie Howe

    You raise a very interesting point. During the O6 era and into the early expansion years it was fairly common for stars to take an initial retirement or spend time in the minors befor returning to the NHL to finish their careers.

    Players like Ted Kennedy, Harry Lumley,Ted Lindsay, Doug Harvey, Bernie Geoffrion, Dickie Moore, Jacques Plante and others took advantage of such sabbaticals to recover from accumulated injuries or mental fatigue before returning to play again.
     
  25. Stonefly

    Stonefly Registered User

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    Fantastic story. It is true, Howe was the absolute master at disguising punishment. He would often use stickhandling to hide his elbows. He was a Rembrandt of sorts...
     

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