I never met Gordie Howe. I know plenty of people who have. That’s refreshing enough.
But it’s almost like I met Gordie Howe when reading Wayne Gretzky’s 1990 autobiography for a junior high english class. From the account of The Great One, Howe was big, strapping, and fierce. But off the ice, he melted into a gentle and thermal personality almost like your favorite Grandpa.
Wayne got that first hand experience as a 10-year old in 1972, when Mr. Hockey visited Gretzky’s hometown of Brantford, Ontario. Gretzky, who idolized Howe as a youngster, got nearly a face full of Howe’s blade.
Gretzky said, “It went on to be one of the most popular pictures I’ve ever signed.”
It’s said a picture is worth 1,000 words. There’s nothing like seeing how incredible this photo turns out. It defines the Howe / Gretzky relationship. Howe, already with plenty of years and Stanley Cups behind him, meets his heir to the throne. Except the heir wouldn’t really take the throne until 1989 (in points) and 1994 (in goals). That’s a long road ahead.
What a history they’d have. And in 1972, they had only just begun.
Thanks for the history #9, whether we got to see you play.
Or not. RIP, Mr. Hockey.
Photo courtesy Reuters