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Volume 90, Issue 91

Tuesday, March 18, 1997

Golden Mean


SPORTS
 

COLUMN: How Gordie Howe?

By Jason Ménard
Gazette Staff

A man who was celebrated for his flying elbows may be showing the effects of taking one too many to the head.

The second all-time leading scorer in the National Hockey League, Gordie Howe, is making yet another comeback at the age of 69. Apparently 32 years, 2,186 games, 975 goals, 2,358 points and 2,084 penalty minutes doesn't add up to one ounce of common sense.

The former Red Wing, Aero and Whaler is planning on suiting up April 1 with the American Hockey League's Syracuse Crunch for another game – unfortunately this is not April Fool's Day joke.

Simply put, Gordie Howe should not be playing professional hockey anymore.

Silence all you braying zealots out there who have read the above statement and are preparing the picket signs. Quiet the screams of ageism. This is not about Howe's ability to play. This is about his motivation.

This is just another in a long list of publicity stunts pulled by one of the game's all-time greats. His desire to suit up is just an extension of his hawking of books at Zeller's not all that long ago.

The man is a publicity hound. Unfortunately this time he's chasing his own tail. He's effectively biting the ass of the game he's worked so hard to build up all his life.

Howe's comeback would be acceptable and even encouraged if he was doing it because he felt he still had something to give the game. However, this is not Guy Lafleur lacing them up after prematurely retiring over a personal conflict.

This is ego gratification in its most nauseating form.

Howe played from 1946-71 with the Detroit Red Wings before resurfacing with the Houston Aeros (1973-77) and New England Whalers (1977-79) of the now-defunct World Hockey Association. He got his last taste of the NHL – and slight whiff of the '80s – when the league absorbed the Whaler franchise in (1979-80).

Check the calendar, it's 1997. Sure he's in good shape and has been playing in old-timers' games, but he must have lost a step somewhere.

The sole reason behind this comeback is glory. As Wayne Gretzky slowly erases Howe's name from the record book, the man formerly known as the greatest player on earth tries to find ways to write it back in.

Remember when Gretzky broke Howe's career goal mark? Howe disputed it because of his WHA goal total. Now, he wants to be the only player to play a professional game in each of six decades.

Sit down Gordie, relax and reflect on the good you've done for the game, not on ways to turn it into a circus to assuage your own ego.


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Copyright © The Gazette 1997