Fanspeak: Gordie Howe voted greatest Red Wing in franchise history

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This summer, NBC Sports’ social media team is conducting the #NHLGreatest initiative, designed for fans to choose the best player in each franchise’s history. Balloting was conducted through three platforms — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — with thousands of votes being cast. The results of this initiative will be released throughout the month of August, in conjunction with PHT’s Team of the Day series.

Detroit Red Wings

1. Gordie Howe (1535)

2. Steve Yzerman (968)

3. Nicklas Lidstrom (578)

4. Pavel Datsyuk (194)

5. Sergei Fedorov (144)

6. Terry Sawchuk (115)

It’s not surprising that Yzerman and Lidstrom finished so high on this list. They were Hall of Fame players and leaders of the Red Wings during a golden era of Detroit hockey.

At the same time, having Howe top this list feels right. The Red Wings have a rich history and so many greats have played for them, but Howe is one of the best players of all-time and had a profound impact on Detroit.

He led Detroit to four Stanley Cup championships, won the Hart Trophy on six occasions, and also claimed the Art Ross Trophy six times. He made his debut in 1946 and didn’t play in his final game until 1980.

He also ranks third on the all-time points list, behind just Mark Messier and Wayne Gretzky and no one has surpassed him yet in games played despite the fact that for most of his career, the NHL only had a 70-game season.

For the vast majority of that, Howe was a member of the Detroit Red Wings. His tenure as a player with them ended when he retired in 1971, but he eventually resumed his career when he joined the WHA’s Houston and participated in one final NHL season in 1979-80 with the Hartford Whalers after the NHL-WHA merger.

Howe remains the Red Wings’ all-time leader in games played, goals, and points.