Known as Mr. Hockey, Howe played the sport professionally in five different decades, beginning his career in 1946 and lasting until 1980. He won four Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings and six Hart Trophies for being the league MVP, and was the greatest scorer in NHL history until he was surpassed by Wayne Gretzky, who was hardly a slouch.
When you play a sport that long and have that much success, you rack up a few quality sound bites along the way.
Here are some of Howe's best:
On His Success
“You find that you have peace of mind and can enjoy yourself, get more sleep, and rest when you know that it was a 100% effort that you gave—win or lose.”
“You've got to love what you're doing. If you love it, you can overcome any handicap, or the soreness, or all the aches and pains and continue to play for a long, long time.”
“I'm really just a lucky old farmboy. I remember when I came up I cut out all the newspaper pictures showing me in a Red Wing uniform just to prove to everyone that I played in the NHL. At first all I ever wanted to do was stick around for a while, but as time went by I decided I'd play 20 years if it killed me.” – Sports Illustrated, Dec. 9, 1968
Rare SI Photos of Gordie Howe
“All pro athletes are bilingual. They know English and profanity.” – Toronto Star, May 27, 1975
• SI VAULT:Wings of the Red Wings (3/18/57)
“If you find you can push someone around, then you push him around.” – Sports Illustrated, Feb. 3, 1969
On His Philosophy
“My philosophy is never start talking about if, and, but or the past, because 90 percent of what follows will be negative." – Sports Illustrated, Jan. 17, 1994
– Jesse Kramer