Gordie Howe, 88
He was as elemental to the game as ice.
Gordie Howe came out of the hard Saskatchewan prairie and presided over his sport for five decades. He was Mr. Hockey.
Even Wayne Gretzky acknowledged the preeminence of No. 9 of the Detroit Red Wings, and it was no coincidence Gretzky wore No. 99.
Howe joined the NHL just after World War II, and before he was done finished with 801 goals and 1,850 points. He led the Red Wings to four Stanley Cups and was MVP six times.
He was a player with vision, presence and toughness. Sticks and checks and fists were the flip side to his majesty on the ice.
Family was paramount, and when he left the NHL at 45 to join the renegade WHA, nothing gave him more pleasure than to play beside sons Mark and Marty. This Methuselah with a slap shot came back to the NHL at 52.
Gordie Howe stands with his lifetime achievement award in 2008. The Canadian Press