On This Day: Gordie Howe completes his record 26th NHL season

With the NBA, MLB, NHL and other major sports leagues and sporting events suspended or canceled, on a daily basis, we will revisit some of the most unforgettable games and sports moments in history. Welcome to On This Day.

Before there was ‘The Great One,’ there was ‘Mr. Hockey.’

Wayne Gretzky, aka ‘The Great One’, is widely regarded as the greatest hockey player of all-time – and his idol was Gordie Howe, better known as ‘Mr. Hockey.’

Howe’s legend wasn’t just about what he did on the ice, even though he did a lot. It was more about how long he stayed on the ice.

Gordie Howe played an NHL record 26 seasons, 25 of which were played with the Detroit Red Wings. He was a 23-time All-Star, and held the record for most goals scored all-time (801) until Gretzky broke the record in 1994. Howe remains No. 2 on the list, and he and Gretzky (894) are the only players in NHL history to score over 800 goals.

Howe also holds the NHL record for games played, and on April 6, 1980, at age 52, ‘Mr. Hockey’ played his final regular season game, completing his 26th season.

Howe took the Hartford Whalers to the NHL playoffs during his final campaign, and in his second-to-last playoff game on April 9, 1980, he recorded his final goal and final assist.

Interestingly enough, after his 25th season with the Red Wings, Howe retired in 1970-71 due to a wrist injury and joined Detroit’s front office. However, in 1973, Howe came out of retirement to join his sons, Mark and Marty, on the Houston Aeros of the World Hockey Association.

In 1974 and 1975, the Aeros would win league titles.

Gordie Howe played six total seasons in the WHA – four with the Aeros and two with the New England Whalers – before the Whalers were absorbed into the NHL as the Hartford Whalers in 1979.

Howe was selected for his final All-Star Game that season.