It's a miracle that Gordie Howe was even able to play in 1979-80, considering he was 51-and-a-half years old when the season began, and 52 when it ended. It had also been over 8 years since he'd dressed for NHL action. In the end, he scored 41 points in 80 games with Hartford, and added another goal and an assist in the Whalers' three playoff games vs. Montreal. Thirteen of Howe's fifteen goals were at even strength, and he went +9, at which he tied for third-best such mark among Hartford forwards (one of three D-men who had a slightly better plus/minus result was Howe's 24-year-old son). Considering that Hartford was a .456 team, that's pretty solid. In total goals for and against, he was +20. The stats show he was on the ice for 11 Whalers' PP goals, and they scored only 42 on the season, so he evidently wasn't on the first PP unit (as you'd expect), but he did see some PP time. Remarkably, Howe finished as the second-highest scoring right-winger on the club. But what I find interesting is how much better he was doing early in the season than later. He massively slowed down, in scoring-terms, as the season progressed. Here's how his stat-line looked at various points: 10 games: 3G + 2A = 5 PTS (+3) 20 games: 8G + 7A = 15 PTS (+11) 24 games: 10G + 8 A = 18 PTS (+10) 30 games: 11G + 10A = 21 PTS (+10) 40 games: 11G + 11A = 22 PTS (+9) 60 games: 13G + 18A = 31 PTS (+10) 80 games: 15G + 26A = 41 PTS (+9) So, at the (very early) 20-to-30 game mark, Howe was pacing for a 60 point, +35 type of season. Not surprisingly, he couldn't maintain that level, but it's weird that he scored 10 goals in 24 games and then only 5 more in the remaining 56 games. I think Howe has commented himself on how he had a hot streak early in the season, but then he fell off a lot as the year went on. Just wondering if anyone remembers watching Howe play this final season? Any memories? How did he look out there -- like a normal, 2nd-line winger, or did he look slower than most players? I'd imagine it wasn't easy for coach Don Blackburn -- who had coached Howe for a few games prior at the end of the 1978-79 WHA season -- to strike the right balance in using the 51-year-old forward whose son was a rising star on defence. Also, is there any particular reason Howe slowed down so much in scoring (I mean, besides the obvious -- age)? And does anyone remember Howe's retirement announcement? I guess it was sometime in 1980. Was it a big event? Was it totally expected?