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Hockey fans, All-Stars line up to pay tribute to Gordie Howe

A tribute wall for Gordie Howe outside Joe Louis Arena.
Sarah Cwiek
Michigan Radio
A tribute wall for Gordie Howe outside Joe Louis Arena.

Detroit Red Wings fans and former hockey greats alike lined up at Joe Louis Arena Tuesday to pay their last respects to Gordie Howe.

The legendary player known as Mr. Hockey died last week at age 88.

Howe’s family and the Red Wings organized a day-long public visitation for him from 9 am-9 pm, honoring his iconic number.

Howe’s pro hockey career spanned five decades, making him one of the most durable and greatest players of all time. He spent most of that career with the Red Wings, leading the team to four Stanley Cup championships during the 1950s.

Howe held NHL scoring records for years, and now ranks fourth on the all-time list. The current record-holder, Wayne Gretzky, idolized Howe as a young player, and also came to Detroit to pay his respects.

So did longtime Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman, who remembered first meeting Howe after being drafted by the team in 1983.

“He just walked up, introduced himself, shook my hand, and — just as he does with everyone — took some time to talk,” Yzerman said. “To tell a couple stories about when he was 18 years old. And from that point on, he was just a nice man who was always thoughtful.

“Everyone knows who Gordie Howe is. Wherever I go, anywhere in the world, when people talk about the Red Wings, they talk about Gordie Howe. They really do.”

Edward Miszak was an usher at Olympia Stadium, home to the Red Wings during Howe’s playing days. He too recalled Howe being as gracious and friendly off the ice, as he was tough and fearsome on it.

“Just him being so nice to you to take the time to talk … to just a kid, you know?” Miszak said. “Some people don’t like to do that, but he would take time out to talk to anybody. That was what was nice about him.”

Howe’s funeral will be held Wednesday at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit.


Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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