The hockey world is in deep mourning on Friday, as word surfaced that “Mr. Hockey” Gordie Howe died at age 88.
People tend to throw around superlatives at times like these, yet they’re fitting in this case; there will never be another player quite like No. 9.
The “Gordie Howe hat trick” – a goal, an assist and a fight – is a testament to his unmistakable blend of courage, toughness and skill. Even so, it represents a mere sliver of the impact he made on the sport (and beyond).
Odes to “Mr. Hockey” are pouring in from all corners today. Here are some of the most touching and heartbreaking remembrances.
Red Kelly spoke of Howe being a Canadian hero, the country’s equivalent to John Wayne, as he told The Globe & Mail:
He’s gone now, but he’d long ago become a feature of our imaginations. Howe’s name summons up a game we’d no longer recognize and an idyllic, illusory vision of the sea-to-sea-to-sea.
What he represents now is Canada’s frontier spirit. We don’t have movie stars or galloping politicians to anchor our national mythology. We have hockey players, and none greater than Howe. He’s our John Wayne, our Theodore Roosevelt.
He is an idealized vision of ourselves – tough, decent and uncompromising.
The tone was often appropriately solemn, yet there were moments of humor and awe mixed in as well.
Again, his impact reverberates beyond hockey into other sports and even pop culture:
Few athletes make the kind of mark that “Mr. Hockey” ended up leaving behind.