Gordie Howe by the numbers
Gordie Howe left an indelible mark on the history of hockey.
The numbers don't lie. Howe, who passed away on Friday at the age of 88, rewrote the record books over a 32-year career that spanned six different decades. To read about his exploits, check out the classic stories from SPORTS ILLUSTRATED magazine's Vault.
The Hall of Famer played 26 of those seasons in the NHL, accruing 1,767 total games. Add in playoffs, and his time spent in the WHA and IHL, and Howe dressed for 2,422 professional games. That mark for longevity will never be broken.
He's also remembered as one of the NHL's most prolific scorers. Howe ranks fourth behind Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and Jaromir Jagr in career regular-season points with 1,850. His 801 goals are second only to Gretzky, and his 1,049 assists place him ninth.
Numbers don't tell the whole story of Howe, but they offer a glimpse into what set him apart. Here are some other notable stats that speak to the legendary career of Mr. Hockey.
Trophies named in his honor. The World Hockey Association's MVP award was initially known as the Gary M. Davidson Award in honor of the circuit's founder, but after Howe won it in 1974, the hardware was renamed to recognize his contributions to the league and the sport.
The surprisingly low number of "Gordie Howe hat tricks" tallied by the man they were named after. He rang up his first on Oct. 11, 1953 when he scored, assisted on a goal by Red Kelly and fought Toronto's Fernie Flaman — all in the first period. His second came later that same season on Mar. 21, 1954, also against the Leafs. He scored the game's opening goal, assisted on a pair by linemate Ted Lindsay, then fought Toronto's Teeder Kennedy,
Franchises that retired his famous #9 (Detroit Red Wings, Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes, Houston Aeros). It would be entirely fitting if the rest of the league followed suit.
Number of times Howe graced the cover of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED magazine (1964, 1974, 1980)
Stanley Cups won by Howe with the Detroit Red Wings (1950, 1952, 1954, 1955). He also captured two Avco Cups with the WHA's Houston Aeros (1974, 1975).
The number of decades in which he played in the NHL. Howe made his debut in 1946 as an 18-year-old, scoring in his first game against the Maple Leafs. He closed out his career with the Whalers in 1980. His final season was highlighted by a memorable appearance in the All-Star Game played in Detroit's Joe Louis Arena.
Art Ross Trophies as the NHL's leading scorer (1951-1954, 1957, 1963). Howe scored a career-high 103 points during the 1968-69 season, but finished third in the scoring race behind Phil Esposito and Bobby Hull.
Hart Trophies as the NHL's most valuable player (1952, 1953, 1957, 1958, 1960, 1963). He finished among the top-three vote-getters in an additional six seasons.
Number of times Howe was honored as a First Team All-Star. He was named to the Second Team on nine occasions. He only was overlooked once (1954-55) between 1948 and 1970.
The string of seasons in which he finished among the NHL's top-five points leaders (1950-1969).
Consecutive years in which Howe scored at least 20 goals.
His personal best for goals scored in a single season, set in 1952-53, capping off a string of three straight years as the NHL's top marksman. Howe topped the 40-goal mark five times during his NHL career.
Howe's record-setting age during his final NHL season with the Hartford Whalers. Chris Chelios, at 48, ranks second. Even at that age, Howe was a reliable scorer, recording 15 goals and 41 points in 80 games.
Howe's age when he skated a single shift in his final professional game with the Detroit Vipers of the International Hockey League in 1997, extending the span of his career to six decades.
The number of points Howe scored after turning 50. Of that total, 36 were goals.
Howe's point tally for his career in the WHA. He ranks seventh among the league's all-time scorers—not bad for a guy who didn't join the league until he was 45. Howe averaged 1.2 points per game over his 419-game career with the Aeros and Whalers.