‘In God’s hands’: Red Wings legend Howe suffers serious stroke

Gordie Howe, 86, is known as "Mr. Hockey" to his many fans throughout the hockey world.

Anne-Marie Sorvin/Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Spor

As Detroit Red Wings great Gordie Howe rests at his daughter Cathy’s home in Lubbock, Texas, after suffering a serious stroke on Sunday, his family released a statement Wednesday indicating his condition — at first thought to be extremely life-threatening — is "showing some signs of improvement."

The statement declared:

The Howe family would like to thank friends, family and fans for your overwhelming well-wishes, prayers and support for Gordie. He suffered a significant stroke on Sunday morning while at his daughter’s home in Lubbock, Texas. His condition remains guarded, although he is showing some signs of improvement. We acknowledge that there is a long road to recovery ahead, but Dad’s spirits are good and his competitive attitude remains strong.

Sons Mark and Marty Howe — both of whom played professionally with Gordie in the 1970s — were en route to Lubbock on Tuesday night.

Dr. Murray Howe, Gordie’s third son who is also the chairman of Toledo Hospital’s department of radiology, plans to leave for Lubbock on Wednesday.

"I spoke to him this evening using FaceTime, chatted with him for quite a while," Murray Howe said Tuesday. "He had a pretty severe stroke on Sunday. He’s unable to walk, can’t move his right side. Had difficulty talking."

All of Howe’s children rushing to be with him is an indication that Howe’s condition is very serious.

"This is the biggest hit he’s ever had," Murray Howe said. "It’s going to be tough to recover from. I’d be surprised if he pulls out of it because it’s such a severe stroke. God willing, he will. We’re expecting the worst but hoping for the best.

"It’s kind of touch and go, but he’s the kind of guy that can rally from most anything."

Howe, 86, is known as "Mr. Hockey" to his many fans throughout the hockey world, but is most beloved in Detroit, where he scored 786 goals and 1,809 points in 1,687 games with the Red Wings.

STORIES WORTH SHARING

A member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, Howe played for the Red Wings from 1946 to 1971, winning four Stanley Cups, six Hart Memorial Trophies as most valuable player and six Art Ross Trophies as the league’s leading scorer, and appearing in 22 All-Star Games as a Red Wing.

Howe also won the NHL Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.

Despite the prodigious offensive numbers, Howe is perhaps best known for his toughness and durability. He is the only NHL player to play in five different decades (1940s through 1980s) and his play inspired the term "Gordie Howe hat trick" — a goal, an assist and a fight in one game.

Murray Howe said his father is able to recognize everyone and his speech has improved but he has not regained any strength yet.

"He can’t walk, has difficulty moving his right side," Murray Howe said. "He can feed himself with his left hand because he’s ambidextrous."

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman issued a statement about Howe Tuesday night.

"The entire National Hockey League family sends prayers for strength and healing to our revered Gordie Howe," Bettman’s statement said. "We are all thinking of Gordie and his loved ones as we wish him a speedy and full recovery."

Murray Howe said Gordie was keeping busy while resting.

"He’s looking at old family photos, vacations in Florida, hockey photos," Murray Howe said. "Keeping him comfortable, surrounded him with family.

"It’s in God’s hands at this point. He’s had such an amazing life."