Thursday, May 28, 2015

1980-81 New England Whalers Mark Howe Jersey

Born on this date in 1955, Mark Howe first gained recognition as a surprising addition as member of the 1972 United States Olympic Team that won a remarkable silver medal in Sapporo, Japan. At just 16 years old, and still only a high school junior who had just recently gotten his driver's license and playing on a team with Vietnam War veterans, he remains the youngest member of a US Olympic Hockey Team ever.

1972 USA Olympic team
1972 United States Olympic Team - Mark Howe, back row first on left

"We picked Mark up, and he played some exhibition games with us. We needed a left winger. He was on our list for skill and attitude. The maturity level of this kid was overwhelming. He was a big part of the team. He was tougher than hell. Vlclav Nedomansky of Czechoslovakia nailed him in a preseason game, and he didn't know where he was, but it didn't bother him at all. I used him as a forward, and he became a Hall of Fame defenseman."
Howe recalls,
"The whole thing was just a great, great learning experience. The way I looked at it for my career, it was a huge stepping-stone. I learned more in the six weeks I was gone than I learned in the years and years of going to school. I mean, just about life in general - and just seeing the talent of the players from overseas, watching the Soviets play was a whole new level. Coach Williamson pushed me hard. I was a scorer. But when I went to that team, I wasn't. I was the guy who provided energy. I had to fit into a role, and so for me, it was a completely different experience - a tremendous learning experience."
During the medal ceremony as Howe stood with a silver medal around his neck, it finally struck him that this was a moment to savor.
"I remember looking up at the flag, and that's when I realized what an honor it was the play and represent your country. No matter what I did, I always gave the best I could. Seeing the flag of your country being raised - even though there was one a little higher than ours - was my fondest moment."
He then added to his resume by winning a Memorial Cup in 1973 as a member of the Toronto Marlboros of the Ontario Hockey League and was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player in the process.

At a time when the NHL had an minimum age limit of 20 for it's players, the 18 year old Howe turned professional during the NHL/WHA rivalry in a headline-grabbing signing to play for the Houston Aeros of the WHA along side his brother Marty Howe and his legendary father Gordie, who was lured out of retirement for the opportunity to play with his sons.

Mark,Gordie and Marty Howe

Mark scored his first goal 27 years to the day after his father scored for the first time for the Detroit Red Wings. His trophy cabinet continued to grow, as Mark was awarded the Lou Kaplan Award as WHA Rookie of the Year and the Aeros won the Avco World Trophy in 1974. In 1975 the Aeros repeated as champions of the WHA and Howe was the leading playoff scorer with 22 points in 13 games. He was also named to Team Canada for the 1974 Summit Series against the Soviet Union.

Howe, who began his career as a wing, had moved back to defense by 1976-77 and the trio of Howes signed with the New England Whalers for the 1977-78 season. They continued to play together through the 1979-80 season when the Whalers became members of the NHL. While he regularly scored in the mid-70's points-wise in Houston, his offensive game came alive in New England, first with 91 points in 1977-78 which was followed by 107 points in the final WHA season of 1978-79 before scoring 80 in his first NHL season.

Howe Family Whalers

After Gordie retired following the 1979-80 season, Mark no longer had to play in his father's shadow and was named to his first NHL All-Star Game in 1981 and was later played for the United States in the 1981 Canada Cup. After one more season in Hartford, Howe was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers at the 1983 draft following concerns after a grisly injury in which he was impaled in the thigh by the pointed center of a goal. His recovery required a liquid diet for a period of time that resulted in him losing 24 pounds. His injury resulted in a redesign for goal frames and the way they were held in place on the ice.

He rebounded from his injury and excelled as a member of some great defensive teams of the era. Howe played in his second All-Star Game and was a finalist for the Norris Trophy in 1983 and played in the Stanley Cup Finals in 1985.

He had perhaps the best season of his career in 1985-86, setting NHL career highs with 24 goals, 58 assists and 82 points, made his third All-Star Game, was the NHL plus/minus leader at +85 and came in second in voting for the Norris Trophy.

Mark Howe Flyers

In 1986-87 Howe helped lead the Flyers to the 1987 Stanley Cup Finals while contributing 12 points in 26 games from the blueline and was a Norris finalist for the third time.

After playing 75 games in 1987-88 and his fourth All-Star Game, back and knee injuries would limit him to no more than 60 games for the remaining seven seasons of his career. After four more seasons with the Flyers, Howe signed as a free agent with the Detroit Red Wings, the club his father gained most of his fame with.

While healthy, Howe provided veteran leadership to the Red Wings defensive corps, which included a young Nicklas Lidstrom. The Red Wings began a transformation in 1993-94 with the arrival of Scotty Bowman as coach and made the Stanley Cup Finals in 1995, their first finals appearance since 1966.

After one more season, in which he was limited to just 18 games, Howe retired with 929 NHL games and 426 in the WHA for a combined 405 goals and 841 assists for 1246 points.

Howe was elected to the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 2003, inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2011 and had his jersey number retired by the Flyers in 2012.

Today's featured jersey is a 1980-81 New England Whalers Mark Howe jersey. From the beginning part of Mark's career when he played with both his father Gordie and his brother Marty, Howe wore his first name on his jerseys from his pro debut with the Houston Aeros in 1973 through his final season with the Whalers of 1981-82.

The Whalers wore this style of jersey beginning with their entry into the NHL in 1979-80. One of the terms of their acceptance into the NHL was to change their name from the New England Whalers, used  for seven years while members of the WHA, to the Hartford Whalers at the insistence of the Boston Bruins, who apparently thought of themselves as New England's team. The name change necessitated a new logo, the ever-popular whale tail logo with the hidden H in the negative space.

This jersey remained in use through the 1984-85 season, including one year being paired with the "Cooperalls" long pants, one of only two teams to use the short lived trousers. The jersey saw the unfortunate removal of the Pucky the Whale shoulder logos in 1985-86 but continued to be worn through the 1991-92 season, although with the angled sleeve stripes straightened in 1989-90, until a new set of jerseys debuted in 1992-93 with blue replacing green as the primary team color.

Hartford Whalers 1980-81 jersey photo Hartford Whalers 1980-81 F jersey.jpg
Hartford Whalers 1980-81 jersey photo Hartford Whalers 1980-81 B jersey.jpg

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1984-85 Philadelphia Flyers Mark Howe jersey. Howe was finally able to venture out on his own and ditch the first name on his back in 1982-83 when he joined Philadelphia. 1984-85 was Howe's third season with Philadelphia and he scored 18 goals and 57 points and made it to the Stanley Cup Finals the season he wore this jersey.

The Flyers jerseys remained relatively unchanged from their introduction in 1967 with only gradual detail changes such as the addition of black outlines separating the sleeve and body colors in 1982 and tweaks to the names and numbering style.

Philadelphia Flyers 1984-85 jersey photo Philadelphia Flyers 1984-85 F jersey.jpg
Philadelphia Flyers 1984-85 jersey photo Philadelphia Flyers 1984-85 B jersey.jpg

Today's video segment begins with a little fatherly advice from Gordie to Mark about making the move to the WHA.

Next, a look at Howe's career, as presented during his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001.

Finally, here is Howe's memorable speech during his Hockey Hall of Fame induction.

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