Gordie Howe's slow-down during 1979-80

Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by The Panther, Jan 1, 2019.

  1. BobbyAwe

    BobbyAwe Registered User

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    He did the same thing to Esposito as a rookie. In the 6 team league he probably was able to "welcome" EVERY rookie in a similar manner. No doubt just sending the message "don't ever touch me, kid".
     
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  2. FerrisRox

    FerrisRox "Wanna go, Prettyboy?"

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    I always found it interesting that not only did Gordie play with both of his sons, Mark and Marty in the 1979-80 season, but he also had a teammate, Gordie Roberts, who was named after him.
     
  3. VMBM

    VMBM Touch a mountain... m'kay?

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    IIRC (from Espo's book), Esposito did not feel honoured, though.

    The Finn Heikki Riihiranta received a 'welcome' from Howe too, but it was in the WHA in the mid-70s. He body-checked Howe (legally), and apparently Gordie didn't retaliate right away, so Riihiranta thought that he had gotten away with it (he had heard the stories about Howe of course). But then in the next shift, Howe hit him in the face with his stick --> blood, stiches.

    Quite frankly, I don't know what to make of this sort of thing; I guess it is in some ways admirable that someone is able to make himself feared and thus untouchable like that, but on the other hand, I find it a bit silly too that someone feels that he is above the basic characteristics (like hitting) of a sport.
     
  4. JackSlater

    JackSlater Registered User

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    Esposito's version of the story is pretty funny, with him telling Howe that he used to be his favourite player. I have read somewhere that Howe said that he used to go out of his way to test rookies to see how they would react to his antics. If they seemed intimidated he knew that he owned them, or something to that effect.
     
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  5. Tarantula

    Tarantula Hanging around the web

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    I used to think you were cool man! Priceless!!! :laugh:
     
  6. BadgerBruce

    BadgerBruce Registered User

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    That’s a great story — one I’m sure you will never forget!

    Over the years I’ve watched and re-watched the 1974 Sunmit Series, in which Howe played. My God, Game #1 saw Canada start Backstrom (37), Frank Mahovlich (36) and Howe (46) — damn near 120 combined years. I don’t think the Soviets had a single 30 year old on their team.

    Anyway, I paid particular attention to Howe for the same reason your father did, Howie: all the little things he did right. What really stood out to me was his ability to make the short pass, almost Crosby-like, to use a current example. The puck was no sooner on his stick when it was gone, right on the tape of a teammate. Also, even at 46 he simply never panicked with the puck and had that “holy smokes, is he ever great!” ability to find the open man. Vision — just supreme vision.

    I know lots of people, including a close relative, who played against Howe throughout the 60s, and they tell me that there was nobody like him.
     
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  7. Pominville Knows

    Pominville Knows So i love Sean Avery. Problem?

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    It was Old Time Hockey, so all present views about humanity and ethics needs to be viewed upon through the Old Time Hockey lens.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2019
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  8. blood gin

    blood gin Registered User

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    It's pretty amazing that at 46 he was still doing so much at a high speed and high level...to compete at that level with and against the best. I mean 46 is exceedingly rare in any professional sport. You can't recover as well, the hands go, your wheels go, your release on your shot slows down, you lose velocity. Some guys lose it all, others lose some but retain others (I remember Ryders final season he was an embarrassingly slow skater but his shot was still lethal. He just couldn't get into any position to score. Couldn't even skate with the puck without getting his pocket picked)

    Somehow with Howe the usual degradation happened at a much slower rate.

    He eventually did go but even to the very end to recover from that severe a stroke, at 87 is remarkable. Maybe we shouldn't have been so surprised
     
  9. BobbyAwe

    BobbyAwe Registered User

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    Actually, I forgot to mention that he did the same thing to Orr also in Bobby's first season - although they both tell the tale a little differently? Gordie said Orr "laid the lumber on the back of my neck" so Gordie flattened him a moment later (I guess it was the usual elbow?) Bobby told the story as if he wasn't sure WHY Gordie hit him, so either Orr just doesn't remember provoking Howe or Gordie is embellishing?

    Also Derek Sanderson claimed that Howe knocked him out TWICE IN THE SAME GAME with elbows, and that he regained consciousness on the bench after one of the incidents and had to ask Johnny McKenzie who it was that hit him. McKenzie just said, "Number 9."
     
  10. VMBM

    VMBM Touch a mountain... m'kay?

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    Well in that case!!!!!

    No, I think Howe might have been a bit of an anachronism already in the 1970s... On the other hand, I have seen very little WHA games in my life, so maybe it was a 'jungle out there'. Somewhat of a shock for European-bred players for sure.
     
  11. DannyGallivan

    DannyGallivan Your world frightens and confuses me

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    You're right on both counts. Most players consider other players their peers. How could a 20-something year-0ld player consider a man old enough to be their father, a Hall of Famer, and at the time a player who was considered the best who ever played, as a peer?

    Plus, 51 years-old may be too old for some things that involve stamina, but not too old for most strength-based activities including a hockey fight. Howe could have beaten up many of the players in the league in 1980 if he got the first few shots in.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2019
  12. crimsonace

    crimsonace Registered User

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    A few close to me who saw Gordie play in the WHA have told me stories about how young guys would take runs at the silver-haired Howe. He'd pick himself up, and a few shifts later, a young guy would be crumpled up on the ice in the corner. Gordie had picked his spot.
     
  13. Big Phil

    Big Phil Registered User

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    Exactly. 50 years old isn't 80 either. No doubt you've lost some of your strength by 80 years old. But at 51? You can easily be as strong if not stronger at 51 than the average 25 year old. No doubt Gordie could have still dropped them.
     

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