With all the information available these days, I took an unexpected detour in my review and analysis of the NHL rosters as they take shape with training camps looming. No Twitter or Facebook for me this past weekend as I perused a book sent to me about Mr. Hockey himself,
The book is titled
Young fans today have point-and-click access to all they need to know about their current heroes. Thumbing through
Way back when, I gleaned info on players from newspapers, Sunday paper magazines and, of course, the back of my precious hockey card collection. I cut pictures out of
Don't get me wrong. I'm as enamored with and engulfed by the information age as anyone. But in going through the book on Howe's legacy, the sense of immersion in discovery was uplifting even though I was familiar with much of the story -- from Howe's crash into the boards during the 1949 Stanley Cup Final against Toronto to his infamous fight with Rangers tough guy
According to Howe, "I didn't enjoy myself at all that last year. They were talking changes and I figured who they were thinking of changing."
The quotes -- not just first impressions or experiences, which are numerous and telling -- are priceless. From the Maple Leafs' Hall of Fame defenseman
Or Howe, years later on not being able to return for that Cup Final due to his injuries that included a severe concussion: "I enjoyed my first three Stanley Cups. I don't remember much about the first one, though."
Then there is Fontinato, who landed in the hospital after taking on Howe: "He needn't think he's
This from the man who was so tender and giving as hockey's great ambassador off the ice and so ruthless and "giving" on the ice, whether it was with an elbow, fist or stick. There are countless anecdotes of Howe exhibiting belligerence on the ice, and they are counterbalanced by an equal number of recollections of his benevolence off it. He was an idol to many, including
So true, but I will take it further. When I think "tough all around player" on the ice graced with humility off of it, the Howe ideal is alive and well today. There may be, as
It just took an old school source -- a book -- to remind me.