Earlier this week the Hockey Hall of Fame came calling for four new members of the Class of the 2011. They were Doug Gilmour, Ed Belfour, Joe Nieuwendyk and Mark Howe.
For Howe this is very special, as his father Gordie Howe is also a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. This isn’t the first time the younger Howe has followed in his famous father’s footsteps.
First in 1973 as an 18-year old Mark along with his father and older brother, Marty signed a contract to play together in the WHA with the Houston Aeros. The deal brought the elder Howe out of retirement with the lure of playing with his sons.
Then in the summer of 1977, the Howe family signed as free agents with the New England Whalers. Howe played with the Whalers through the end of the WHA, which included the historic collapse of the Hartford Civic Center roof in January 1978, and came with the team as they moved to the NHL for the 1979-80 season. Howe would stay in Hartford until he was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers on August 19, 1982 for Greg Adams, Ken Linseman, and 1st (David Jensen) and 3rd (Leif Karlsson) round picks in the 1983 NHL Draft.
While with the Whalers Howe scored 123 goals in 5 seasons adding 273 assists for 396 points in his time in Hartford. He also played in 23 playoff games scoring 13 goals and assisting on 11 others for 24 points. As a Whaler Howe averaged over a point per game.
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While in Hartford though Howe’s career nearly ended when on December 27, 1980 in a game against the New York Islanders in Hartford he slid into the net and hit the pointed metal center and suffered a five inch gash on his thigh. He was impaled by the metal and many thought he may never play again. He narrowly missed the base of his spine and he also could have bled to death. The injury prompted the NHL to change the design of their nets so that the injury could never occur again.
After 10 seasons in Philadelphia where he really came into his own and cemented his hockey legacy, Howe followed his dad once again, this time joining Gordie’s original team the Detroit Red Wings for the final three years of his Hall of Fame career.
Much like his famous father, Mark showed the Howe family trait of longevity by playing for four teams in a 22-year career.
His final career numbers between the WHA and NHL are 1355 games played, 405 goals and 841 assists for 1246 career points. He also played in 176 playoff games, scoring 51 goals and 102 assists for 153 points.
Among his awards in his career, Howe was the WHA Rookie of the Year in 1974, winner of the NHL Plus/Minus Award in 1986 and the Bobby Clarke Trophy in the same year. He also played in four NHL All-Star games (one as a Whaler and three as a Flyer).
He won two WHA Championships while in Houston, a silver medal playing for the United States in the 1972 Olympic games in Soporo Japan and four Stanley Cups as a front office member of the Detroit Red Wings, where he is currently the director of pro scouting.
The Howe’s are the 3rd father and son player duo in the Hall joining Bobby and Brett Hull and Lester and Lynn Patrick.
This, like the induction of Ron Francis, is a great time in Whalers history. Howe is one of ours to be revered and it’s wonderful that he achieved this great honor.
Photo credit: WhalerNation.tv