Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Gordie Howe Week - The 1960's - The Milestones

With the passing of hockey legend Gordie Howe last Friday, we pay tribute to one of the greatest players in hockey history, today with our second installment of Gordie Howe Week here at Third String Goalie.

How opened the decade of the 1960's by continuing the dominating form her showed throughout the 1950's, as, following his 28 goal, 73 point season, Howe would be named the winner of the Hart Memorial Trophy as the league MVP for the fifth time overall and third time in four years.

During the 1960-61 season, Howe registered an assist in a 2-0 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs to score the 1,000th NHL point of his career on November 27th, 1960, becoming the first player in the 44 year history of the league to reach the 1000 point milestone, doing so in just his 938th game.

It would be another eight years before Jean Beliveau would become the second to reach 1,000 points and another 20 years before Howe would score his final point, keeping in mind that he already had 14 years in the league behind him at this stage, which would be a good career for the average player.

Howe celebrating becoming the first player
in NHL history to score 1000 points

On March 14th, 1962, Howe beat the New York Rangers Gump Worsely to become only the second player to ever reach 500 goals in the NHL.

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Howe on the occasion of his 500th NHL goal

Early in the 1963-64 season Howe would surpass Maurice "Rocket" Richard when he scored his 545th goal on November 10, 1963 to become the NHL's all-time goal scoring leader when he beat the Montreal Canadiens Charlie Hodge at the Detroit Olympia in front of his thrilled home fans.

 photo Howe Goal 545 11-10-63 vs Charlie Hodge MTL in DET.jpg
Howe surpasses Richard for the career goal scoring record

At the conclusion of the 1962-63 season, Howe captured the Art Ross Trophy for the sixth time with a league high 86 points on his way to winning the Hart Trophy for the sixth time as well.

Howe Ross and Hart Trophies photo Howe Hart and Ross Trophies.jpg
Howe poses with the Ross and Hart trophies in 1963,
having just won each of them for the sixth time

Howe would score his 600th NHL goal in a game versus the Montreal Canadiens, coincidentally on the same date he scored his 1000th point three seasons earlier, November 27th, becoming the first player in NHL history to record 600 goals. It would not be until 1972 that Bobby Hull would become the second to reach 600.

Howe 600th goal photo Howe 600 goals.png
Howe became the first player to score 600 NHL goals

On December 4, 1968 in Pittsburgh, Howe would reach the 700 goal plateau in a 7-2 win over the Penguins. When Howe reached goal number 700, his closest challenger was Richard at 544, but he posed no threat, having retired eight years previously.

Howe 700th goal photo Howe 12-5-68 goal 700.jpg
The milestones kept falling for Howe in the 1960's

In 1968-69, aided by the recent NHL expansion to 12 teams which created a longer schedule of games against some admittedly weaker opponents, Howe achieved his one and only 100 point NHL season with 44 goals and 58 assists for 103 points. His 103 points that season placed Howe third overall in the league, extending his remarkable streak to 20 consecutive seasons of placing in the top five in overall scoring.

While his 71 points in 1969-70 were only good for ninth in the NHL, bringing his 20 year streak of top five placings to and end, it was still enough to lead the Red Wings in scoring, one ahead of Frank Mahovlich.

Similar to his remarkable record of durability in the 1950's, from 1959-60 to 1968-69, Howe would play in 696 of 704 games, including 7 seasons without missing a game.

Howe rarely missed a game while with the Red Wings

Howe would play one final season with Detroit in 1970-71, playing in 63 of 78 games, his lowest total since 1948-49 thanks to a chronic wrist problem. Additionally, Howe discovered he was just the third highest paid player on the team after his 103 point season, which led to a conflict with the team, but he did earn a more than 100% salary increase to to $100,000, but even that came at a price for his relationship with the organization when they blamed Howe's wife Collen Howe for the demand.

Additionally, the Red Wings missed the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons as they had entered the era of the Dead Wings and would only make the playoffs just once over the next 12 years. Thanks mainly to his wrist problems, Howe would retire from the NHL following the 1970-71 season at the age of 43 and take a job with the Detroit front office.

At the time of his retirement, Howe led the NHL in Games Played, Career Goals, Career Assists and Career Points, having won the Hart Trophy 6 times, the Art Ross Trophy six times and the Stanley Cup four times. The Red Wings wasted little time retiring his #9 on March 12, 1972. Also that same year, Howe became only the sixth player to have the mandatory three year waiting period waived by the Selection Committee and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on June 7, 1972.

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The Red Wings retired Howe's #9 in March 1972

Today's featured jersey is a 1965-66 Detroit Red Wings Gordie Howe jersey from the season Howe scored his 600th NHL goal. When the NHL expanded from six teams to 12, Howe enjoyed an offensive renaissance given the chance to play against the weaker expansion clubs. After four seasons of scoring less than 30 goals, 1967-68 saw him leap up to 39 goals followed by 44 more in 1968-69, tied for his third best season of his professional career, which began in 1946 and lasted all the way to 1980.

While Detroit's red sweater dates back to 1932, the Red Wings did not wear a white sweater until 1934 to wear in games against the Montreal Canadiens. The white sweaters were originally simply a reverse of the red sweaters - all white including white sleeves with red bands around the arms and waist - and did not get its contrasting red sleeves until 1961, making the Red Wings white jerseys, now unchanged for over 50 years old, the "new" one.

 photo DetroitRedWings1968-69jersey.jpg
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1970-71 Detroit Red Wings Gordie Howe jersey. 1970-71 would be Howe's final season with the Red Wings. This classic style has been used by the Red Wings essentially unchanged since 1932 when the Detroit franchise first adopted the name "Red Wings" after previously being known as the Falcons and the Cougars.

Only detail changes have occurred over the years as this sweater has endured to become a timeless classic.

photo courtesy of Classic Auctions
Today's video section begins with highlights of Howe in French scoring time after time against the Canadiens.

Next is an excellent tribute to Howe from the TSN Network in Canada.

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