Gordie Howe

Remembering Gretzky passing Howe, 30 years later

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Throughout the season we will be taking an occasional look back at some significant moments in NHL history. This is the PHT Time Machine. Today we look back 30 years when Wayne Gretzky broke Gordie Howe’s all-time points record … against his former team.

Exactly 30 years ago Tuesday Wayne Gretzky, then a member of the Los Angeles Kings, made NHL history by breaking Gordie Howe’s points record with a late third period goal to tally his 1,851st career point in the league.

In what was perhaps the most fitting way possible, he managed to do it in Edmonton against his former team where he spent the first nine years of his NHL career, winning four Stanley Cups. “The Great One” also accomplished the feat just a little more than a year after he was traded to Los Angeles in one of the biggest trades in sports history. There was already a statue built of him outside the building in which he broke the record.

Gretzky entered the game trailing Howe by just a single point and tied the all-time mark with a first period assist on a Bernie Nicholls goal to give the Kings a 1-0 lead.

He broke Howe’s record with less than a minute to play in the third period, tying the game and sending it to overtime where Gretzky would end up winning the game to cap off the night.

Not only did he break the record in Edmonton on a game-tying in the closing seconds, but it came at the end of what was a three-minute shift for Gretzky, via the October 15, 1989 Associated Press:

A couple of random facts to keep in mind about Gretzky’s climb up the NHL’s all-time points leaderboard and the absurdity of his production…

  • He recorded his 1,850th point in his 11th NHL season at the age of 28.
  • By comparison, Howe played 26 seasons in the NHL and recorded his 1,850th point at the age of 51. Yes, there was a brief three-year retirement and a six-year stop in the WHA thrown in there, but even if you look at Howe’s career when he retired the first time at age 42 (after 25 seasons in the NHL) he was still *only* at 1,809 points. Gretzky shattered that by age 27.
  • The craziest stat about Gretzky’s career is still the fact that if he never scored a goal in the NHL he would have still eventually broken Howe’s point record by 113 points just based on assists alone.
  • At the time of Gretzky’s record setting day, he had already registered 1,207 assists, a mark that (again excluding goals) would have been enough to put him in the top-12 in points all-time at that moment.
  • Gretzky would go on to finish his career with 2,857 points. The NHL’s second-leading scorer, Jaromir Jagr, is 936 points behind him (1,921 points). The gap between Gretzky and Jagr at No. 1 and 2 is the same as the gap between Jagr and the 91st leading scorer of all-time, Dave Keon.
  • The active players that are closest to Gretzky are Joe Thornton with 1,480 points, Sidney Crosby with 1,226, and Alex Ovechkin with 1,218. It is entirely possible — if not likely — that Crosby and Ovechkin will eventually pass Howe’s mark and climb into the top-five, but none of them have any chance of matching Gretzky’s point record, a mark that seems almost unbreakable given the way the game has evolved and become a more defensive and goaltending dominated sport.

For more stories from the PHT Time Machine, click here.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Girls hockey in Philly may get boost from Howe Foundation

When Snider Hockey was just getting started in the mid-2000s, someone asked Jim Britt a question that made his jaw drop.

”An administrator asked me, ‘What are the girls going to do while the boys are playing hockey?”’ Britt recalled.

The Philadelphia-based organization named after late Flyers owner Ed Snider now has more than 3,000 kids in its program and almost a third are girls. Snider Hockey officials want to get to a point that boys and girls are split 50-50 and are teaming with the Howe Foundation to take another stride toward that goal.

Snider Hockey and the charity started by Gordie Howe’s wife, Colleen, announced a multiyear partnership Tuesday that could advance the already stellar girls hockey program in the Philadelphia area. The Howe Foundation will give $5,000 each annually to assist Snider’s boys and girls hockey.

”Colleen and the Howe Foundation, that’s the foundation of that,” said Nolan Howe, grandson of ”Mr. Hockey” and son of Hockey Hall of Famer Mark Howe. ”We wouldn’t have done it, the Howe Foundation I’m speaking from now, had there not been the involvement of the girls program because it is the foundation of what we want to accomplish. Her vision and her mission was to help those in need and allow them to be able to enjoy it and to participate.”

Snider Hockey is already off to a good start there, and it seems a matter of time until it produces a national team player. From his spot as director of hockey operations for the junior Maine Nordiques, Nolan Howe knows plenty about brothers Justin and Chris Zapata, who came out of Snider Hockey, and has heard all about 10-year-old sister Bella, who might be the best of the three.

”I was asking around about him and everybody just kept saying, ‘Yeah, but wait till you see his younger brother, and the best one of the whole bunch is the little girl,”’ Howe said.

Bella Zapata dazzles on the ice now, almost a decade before she could play Division I college hockey. But Snider Hockey has strong girls programs beyond just one player.

Howe said 15% of girls registered in the Atlantic district come from Snider Hockey. Executive vice president Jan Koziara said all the girls travel teams have female coaches because the organization believes in the importance of role models.

”We’ve always made welcoming girls and providing a supportive atmosphere for them a priority since our inception,” Koziara said. ”This partnership I think is really important because it helps us to provide more opportunities for girls to play the game at a higher level.”

Colleen Howe, known as ”Mrs. Hockey,” founded the Detroit Junior Red Wings, managed her husband’s and sons Mark and Marty’s business interests and was a powerhouse in the sport of the ice like Gordie was on it.

”What a great role model in Colleen Howe: somebody who was a trailblazer, a great leader and somebody who gave back to girls so that they can have opportunities through this great sport,” Koziara said. ”It gives us an opportunity to celebrate her legacy along with Gordie’s and really show that hockey is great for everybody – for boys and for girls.”

Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

PHT Morning Skate: Messier gives McDavid advice on making the leap to the NHL

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Six-time Stanley Cup champion Mark Messier had a chance to give top prospect Connor McDavid some advice when the two met for the first time on Monday in Chicago. Messier passed along some advice that he learned from hanging out with Wayne Gretzky during their early years in Edmonton. Despite all the sponsorship, fan and media demands, Gretzky was always the most prepared come game time.

“Listen, I’m not trying to cram 40 years of experience down into one five-minute brief meeting, but I think it is important for him to know that he can say ‘no’ sometimes,” said Messier. (Sportsnet)

Jaromir Jagr has a story on why Mario Lemieux came out of retirement during the 2000-01 season. (Bar Down)

Here’s another look at the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Game 3 3-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks:

Gordie Howe ‘comfortable and happy’ after second stem cell treatment. (The Hockey News)

Chicago’s Navy Pier salutes Blackhawks on ferris wheel. (Puck Daddy)

Video: Howe honored at the Kinsmen Sports Celebrity Dinner

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Gordie Howe made what many expect to be his final public appearance Friday night at the Kinsmen Sports Celebrity Dinner in Saskatoon.

Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Hull and Brett Hull were among the hockey greats in attendance to pay tribute to Mr. Hockey.

Part of the day’s festivities included an arena near Howe’s hometown renamed the Gordie Howe Kinsman Arena.

The 86-year-old has been in poor health since suffering a stroke in October. However, he has made significant improvement after undergoing stem-cell treatment in Mexico last month.

Mark Howe on his father’s health: ‘He’s back in the ballgame’

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It appears the health of Gordie Howe is headed in the right direction.

Speaking to MLive.com’s Ansar Khan, Mark Howe said his father’s health has been encouraging over the past week.

“A week ago our discussion was ‘Is he even going to be around Christmastime?’ It’s been peaks and valleys,” said Mark Howe. “Right now we’re at the highest peak since his stroke. We’ve been pretty excited about it.”

Gordie Howe, 86, has reportedly suffered multiple strokes since late October. Wednesday’s news is the first real sign of progress in the right direction for the hockey legend.

According to Khan’s report, Gordie Howe has even been walking under his own power.

“He’s back in the ballgame,” said Mark Howe. “Where it will lead to we don’t know, but he’s miles ahead of where he was weeks ago.

“In the last week he’s been getting stronger, better. We’re pretty encouraged by it.”