Notes: Gordie Howe 'miles ahead of where he was weeks ago'
There appears to be some good news for Gordie Howe and for his fans in his hometown.
Howe, 86, has been recovering from a severe stroke that he suffered Oct. 26 and from a few minor strokes and a bout of dehydration.
More than six months ago, before his recent health issues, Howe was to be honored in his hometown of Saskatoon Feb. 6 for the Kinsmen Sports Celebrity Dinner.
If things keep going well, he just might make it.
On Wednesday, John Fraser, who is with the Sports for Saskatoon Media Group, tweeted that Howe's son Marty said Howe is walking under his own power and expects to be at the event.
"In the last week he's been walking a little bit, getting stronger, better," son Mark Howe said. "After a really difficult month we're starting to see signs of him getting better. We're pretty encouraged by it."
Although it's still too early to say for sure that Howe will be able to attend, it's good news that it's even a possibility.
"We're hoping and praying," Mark Howe said. "At least now he may have a chance to go. It would be nice for Dad because it's his hometown. Great for him, great for the city. A week ago it wasn't even part of the discussion. Our discussion was is he even going to be around Christmas time. It's been peaks and valleys. Right now we're at the highest peak since his stroke. We've been pretty excited about it."
After being confined to bed for six weeks, Howe is now able to move and even feed himself with his left hand.
"He's starting to eat, walking a little bit, more of a shuffle," Mark Howe said. "The first time since his stroke he's been able to walk."
The epidural that Howe got to relieve his severe back pain worked well and Howe's back continues to be feeling pretty good.
"A month ago we were just hoping Dad was going to pull through," Mark Howe said. "He's wanting to get better. Before he wasn't eating, drinking, was disinterested. The speech therapist would come in and he'd close his eyes as if to say 'I don't want to do this.'"
Kids Mark, Murray, Marty and Cathy all plan to attend the event in Saskatoon and now they're hoping to bring their father with them.
"A week ago I would have said there's no way in the world (Gordie could be there)," Mark Howe said. "If he continues to improve, we'll have to wait and see.
"He's back in the ball game. Where it will lead to we don't know, but he's miles ahead of where he was weeks ago."
Wings general manager Ken Holland said they expect Johan Franzen to be ready for Friday's game against the New York Islanders.
Franzen missed Tuesday's game due to illness.
Holland also said that doctors say Stephen Weiss, who suffered a shoulder injury last Friday against the Florida Panthers, is progressing well.
Holland said Weiss could be ready to play before Christmas, possibly as early as Sunday against the Colorado Avalanche.