Meeting Mr. Hockey
It was 20 minutes with a hockey legend in his twilight years.
Gordie Howe, who will turn 84 in March, did his best to answer questions from members of the Kamloops media during his visit last week. The aging hockey icon’s mind often wandered, as did the answers to the questions he was asked.
His son, Marty, accompanied Howe and did his best to clarify when needed.
Here are some of the most humorous, enlightening and interesting things Mr. Hockey had to say.
• The Floral, Sask., product was asked about fighting and if it should be removed from the game.
He spoke about what his attitude toward fighting was when he played.
“If I was hit, I was going to hit back,” Howe said.
“I didn’t want anyone getting the opinion that they could go around knocking people down.
“If Ted Lindsay was here, he would tell you.”
• Howe was asked about respect among players and he began speaking about a verbal exchange that happened during his playing days.
“When we were playing, somebody said, ‘Do you like so and so?’ and I said, ‘No, but his sister’s cute.’
“You’d have to pick on the family.
“Some of that conversation I think is good for the game because it speeds it up a little bit.”
• Concussions became a topic of conversation and Howe shared a story about a brain-rattling experience of his own.
“Maybe I was stupid, but when I got hit in the head and I couldn’t see properly, I came down there and I missed the gate by about four feet.
“I ended up talking to their players and they got mad at me.”
• Howe told a humorous story about a physical altercation.
“I won’t mention any names, but I was playing a fellow in Toronto and I got a real good shot at him.
“He had just taken a shot at [Ted] Lindsay. I stepped in between them and he went down pretty hard.
“One of their players came over when the whistle blew and goes, ‘Thank you. He needs that.’
“After the game, he was waiting for me. I thought, ‘Uh oh.’ He came up and he said, ‘I was stupid. It doesn’t look right for you or me. I’ll buy you a beer.
“That was the end of all the conversation.”
• The legend can still be quick on his feet and he unleashed a few one-liners at the press conference.
“If somebody spears me, they know darn well they’re going to get a heavier stick,” Howe said.
Radio NL’s Jon Keen asked what Howe thought of the term ‘A Gordie Howe hat trick.’
“As long as they remember me,” Howe replied.
CFJC7’s James Peters asked, “What’s the ring you’re wearing, Gordie?”
Gordie answered: “Mine. Let’s put it this way, they won’t get it back.”
(Marty said the ring was given to his father by the Red Wings to commemorate all the Stanley Cups he helped the club win.)
Howe’s toughness is the stuff of legend and it appears he did his best to pass the grit down to his sons, Murray, Mark and Marty.
“Gordie always used to tell us, ‘Do unto others before they do unto you,’” Marty recalled.
Howe chuckled at his rendition of the golden rule and said, “Good teacher, right?”
Finally, as the press conference was coming to an end, Marty began to wrap things up.
“I want to let everyone know we’ll be at the game tonight,” Marty said in reference to that night’s Kamloops Blazers-Spokane Chiefs contest.
As soon as Marty finished the sentence, his father piped up: “I’m dressin.”