The most astonishing facts about Gordie Howe’s 32-year pro hockey career.

By SI Wire
June 10, 2016

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Gordie Howe played 32 seasons of major-league professional hockey. 32. It’s easy to see how impressive his scoring numbers were, but it’s even more amazing to look a little deeper at the mind-boggling facts about his remarkable career. 

Spanning eras

Howe played against players born in 1907 (Dit Clapper) and 1960 (Ray Borque). He played against the greatest scorer of the Original Six era (Maurice Richard) and he played against the greatest player of any era (Wayne Gretzky). 

Gordie Howe Hat Trick

Among Howe’s numerous contributions to hockey is the term “Gordie Howe hat trick.” Because Howe was just as adept a fighter as he was a scorer, Howe’s name is forever tied to the term for recording a goal, assist and a fight in the same game. 

But here’s the weird thing: Howe only had two such games in his career—one in 1953 and another in 1954. 

The Expansion Era

For Howe’s first 21 NHL seasons, the league only had six teams. By the time he retired there were 21. 

His first pair of skates cost less than $1

Howe grew up in Saskatchewan during the Great Depression, and acquired his first pair of skates almost by accident.

“Someone was going door to door, selling bags of stuff for $1 and in one of those bags, dad got his first pair of skates,” Howe’s son Mark told the Associated Press

He un-retired at age 45

Most of these facts are obviously predicated on the fact that Howe played for so dang long. But while it’s ludicrous that he played until he was 52, it’s even wilder that he sat out two years and decided to come out of retirement at age 45. 

“When the opportunity came to come to Houston, I really jumped at it.… They paid me more than I was asking,” he said. “I wanted to play with my kids.”

- Dan Gartland

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